Product News: Analytik Jena’s SPECORD® Photometer Celebrates its 50th Anniversary

15 Apr 2013

When Carl Zeiss founded the Optical Workshop in Jena in 1846, this was the starting point for industrial production of analytical instruments worldwide. It was in 1995 when Analytik Jena AG acquired the product section of lab analysis technology from the by then well-established Carl Zeiss Jena company. Analytik Jena AG continued to produce the proven and tested product lines and added its own innovative ideas to lead them to the 21st century. The company draws on the 150 years of tradition and is closely committed to the historic achievements of Ernst Abbe and Carl Zeiss. Analytik Jena's premium products "made in Germany" stand for the highest quality standards.

In 1963 Carl Zeiss Jena's spectrophotometers SPECORD® and SPEKOL® succeeded the Pulfrich photometer first presented in 1924. Even in those days, the SPECORD® series was known for being "reliable and simultaneous, fast, extremely robust and universal". This year marks the 50th anniversary of the SPECORD®, one of the most successful analysis instrument from Jena. The current SPECORD® devices are manufactured by Analytik Jena. Like all preceding models, the latest series stands for precision, flexibility, durability and ease of use. It is the innovative design and the unparalleled range of accessories that still make photometers from Jena the instrument of choice for laboratories around the world.

And right on time for the anniversary, the year 2013 will see the completion of the series by the new SPECORD® 50 PLUS. It is a complement to the latest generation of the double beam photometer series SPECORD® PLUS. The UV/Vis photometer SPECORD® 50 PLUS for the spectral range of 190–1100 nm combines high energy throughput and stability. Quartz-coated, premium, encapsulated optical components ensure highest quality, maximum performance and durability.

The new instrument complements the proven SPECORD® 200 PLUS with fixed slit, which stands for simultaneous measurements of both sample and reference, the SPECORD® 210 PLUS with five variable slit widths for measuring samples with the highest requirements to the optical resolution and the SPECORD® 250 PLUS with five variable slit widths and double monochromator for samples with a high proportion of stray light.

The UV/Vis spectroscopy is a method of molecular absorption spectroscopy with ultraviolet and visible radiation predominantly performed on liquid samples measured in transmission or absorption. Solid and gaseous samples can equally be measured. In addition to qualitative information, such as the purity of substances, identification or information on binding relationships, this method also provides quantitative information. The SPECORD® PLUS offers the perfect solution for countless applications – for routine analysis tasks as well as for special applications in chemistry, pharmacy, medicine, food safety, environment, life science and many other fields. The basic software version already includes numerous specific tools for individual applications.

One of the most common applications of the SPECORD® PLUS series in the field of environmental analysis is the determination of phosphate with a sipper system. The determination of phosphate is a widely used method in the analysis of water and waste water. Due to the discharge of waste waters and the seeping of agricultural fertilizer residues, particularly surface waters may have relatively high phosphate content. A reaction mixture of ammonium molybdate, potassium antimony (IIl) tartrat and ascorbic acid is added to the sample for the quantitative determination of phosphate. Potassium hydrogen phosphate is used as standard solution. The quantitative analysis is performed by the calibration with standard solutions followed by the determination of the concentrations in the samples. In order to keep the effort as low as possible, this routine task is often performed with flow-through cells. These cells require the use of a particular accessory, the sipper system. Part of this system is an adjustable cell holder for the flow cells with a pathlength of 1, 2 or 5 cm, as well as a pump unit which allows the flow.

However, this is just one very common example in water analysis, while the SPECORD® PLUS series provides numerous other fields of application. These include enzymatic determinations in food analysis or in the medical field the determination of bile acids. Bile acids are synthesized in the liver and act as emulsifiers in the digestion of fats. Increased bile acid levels in plasma or serum occur in case of liver diseases such as acute viral hepatitis, liver sclerosis, liver cancer or toxic hepatic damages. Bile acid concentrations are determined enzymatically.

Because of their effect and substance specificity the enzymes enable a number of simultaneous metabolic processes in the human organism. In the routine analysis enzymatic methods are of great importance. By the measurement of the absorbance change in the UV range of absorbent coenzymes nearly all substances which can be converted by enzymes can be determined photometrically.

An enzyme-based analysis is fast and can be performed without time-consuming sample preparation. It is performed under physiological conditions. The reagents are harmless and easy to handle. Furthermore the documentation of individual substances in mixtures is possible. Thanks to an extensive collection of enzymatic methods in the WinASPECT PLUS® software, the determination of the corresponding substance with the relevant measurement setting, sample sequence and evaluation is performed automatically. Furthermore the Peltier-tempered cell changer enables enzymatic analyses of multiple samples which require very exact tempering.

SPECORD® PLUS stands for ease of use and flexibility for uncomplicated and versatile UV/Vis analysis. The monochromator with imaging holographic grating reduces stray light and guarantees absolute precision of the measuring results. The minimized number of movable components ensures highest reliability, a notably improved signal-to-noise ratio and an ideal energy throughput. Real double-beam mode provides highest precision and an improved long-term stability by measurement of sample and reference at the same time. The measurement results always represent the current energetic comparison of the two beams. This allows compensating of drift of the radiation source and extinction changes of the reference sample. The innovative CDD technology (cooled double detection) with two Peltier-tempered detectors ensures accurate measurement values and very good stability. The radiation sources are pre-adjusted and voltage stabilized. An internal holmium oxide filter ensures automatic wavelength calibration and optimized wavelength accuracy and reproducibility. A variable spectral resolution allows the visualization of even smallest details in the spectrum. SPECORD® has been developed for user-friendly operation: Intuitive navigation, a comprehensive collection of methods, the Self Check System and particularly the wide range of accessories make it easy for the user to run analyses.

If routine tasks or special applications – for 50 years the spectrophotometer from Jena has been the instrument of choice for users around the world. This is no surprise, since the constant pursuit of outstanding performance is the unifying element of Carl Zeiss Jena and Analytik Jena AG with their glorious tradition.