Facilities and Instrumentation

Facilities and Instrumentation
We invite you to take advantage of our excellent industry-current facility, offering a safe, friendly, and collaborative environment for students and faculty.

Brousseau Hall is a modern science facility housing the Biology and Chemistry Departments.  The Chemistry Department includes research labs and 4 large teaching labs, all of which are designed for maximum safety and enhanced student experience. Lab enrollments are capped at 16, and each lab has individual student work areas and plenty of fume hood space.

Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources

The Saint Mary’s College Chemistry Department is housed in Brousseau Hall, which  opened in 2000.  The laboratories have numerous fume hoods (two are walk-in hoods for preparatory chromatography) to safely prepare various organic and inorganic compounds and derivatives for chemical analyses.  The laboratory has typical synthetic equipment (e.g. vacuum pumps, rotary evaporators, melting point apparatus, etc.).

For chemical analysis, the Department has a robust collection of instrumentation.  For organic chemical product characterization, there are two FT-IRs, a Bruker multi-nuclear high field NMR (1H at 400 MHz), two Agilent 8453 UV-Vis diode array spectrometers, and a Perkin-Elmer LS50B scanning fluorimeter. For inorganic chemical analysis, an Agilent MP-AES (Atomic Emission Spectrometer) is present and acidic digestion are efficiently performed with a CEM microwave digestion system. Additional element analysis are performed on the Department's XRF instruments, an EDAX and the Thermo Niton field portable XRF. 

For analytical separations, the Department has GC/MS, another GC/FID instrument, one 1100 series Agilent HPLC instrument which has a diode array and fluorescence detectors in series plus 1260 series Agilent HPLC with a PDA. Both HPLCs has autosamplers. The Chemistry Department shares a LC-MS instrument with the Biology Department.

For routine analytical and bioanalytical chemical analyses, there are a few 96 well plate readers with absorbance and fluorescence detection available.  A nano-drop spectrometer makes spectral experiments on small volume biological/biochemical samples easily accomplished.  For various electrochemical experiments, the Department has four Pine instrumentation potentiostats and various electrodes.  A stopped-flow fluorescence instrument facilitates the study of faster chemical kinetics.  With respect to thermal measurements, the Department owns two Parr bomb calorimeters and a Malvern isothermal titration calorimeter.

Various instrumentation with selected features are pictured below.

Spectroscopic instruments

High field NMR: Bruker 400 MHz
  • Multinuclear and multidimensional (NMR) Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
    • Dipolar nuclei: 1 H, 13 C, 19 F, 31 P, etc.
    • Quadrupolar nuclei: 10 B, 51 V, 59 Co, etc.
    • 1D and 2D NMR
    • Temperature dependent NMR studies
    • NMR diffusion
  • Currently used in Organic, Biochemistry, and Research
MP-AES: Agilent 4200 (Microwave Plasma – Atomic Emission Spectroscopy)
  • This Agilent instrument uses a minimal amount of argon gas to establish a plasma. This plasma is sufficiently hot to take nearly any compound and break the bonds yielding atoms.
    • Liquid samples are aspirated into a fine mist/aerosol and pumped into plasma
  • Our system has a nitrogen gas generator (from air), large air pump (on the roof), and an autosampler.
  • Currently used in Environmental Chemistry, Instrumentation and Research.
XRF EDAX- Orbis: lab bench instrument
XRF EDAX- Orbis: lab bench instrument
  • Non-destructive analysis for various elements on various surfaces (xy platform to select specific positions for analysis.
    • Artifacts, thin films, surfaces, and sealed sample cups.
  • Sealed X-ray chamber designed to use microXRF
    • size limitation approximately 7 cm x 7 cm x 4 cm
    • Extra protection from X-ray radiation
  • With vacuum chamber analysis of lighter elements is possible.
  • Currently used in Chemical Instrumentation was donated by US ATF.
Stopped Flow Fluorescence: Applied Photophysics
Stopped Flow Fluorescence: Applied Photophysics
  • The fluorescence behavior of a chemical system can be studied. Since the instrument has a mixing chamber, very fast reactions can be studied (the cell has 20 millisecond dead time). 
  • Currently used in Research. 
Plate Reader - Chemistry equipment
Absorbance and Fluorescence Plate Readers
  • Plate readers can be utilized to study numerous samples in an efficient manner.
    • Standard 96 well plates format
    • Thermostatted for endpoint and kinetic assays.
  • Absorbance and fluorescence detection methods are available.
  • Currently used in General Chemistry, Biochemistry, Environmental Chemistry and Research.
Chemistry Equipment: PE Fluorimeter
Molecular Fluorescence: Perkin-Elmer LS-50B
  • Molecular fluorescence studies on this instrument can be effective dependent on the molecule’s fluorescent characteristics.
    • Time dependent studies are possible as well.
    • Currently used in Environmental Chemistry and Research.

Chromatographic Instruments

Gas Chromatographs and Mass Spectrometers

Volative analytes separated with flame ionization detection (FID)

Gas Chromatographs and Mass Spectrometers

Volatile analytes separated with mass spectral analysis.

Liquid Chromatographs
HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatographs)
  • With UV-vis absorption, fluorescence and refractive index detection.
  • 1200 series instrument has PDA.
  • 1100 series instrument has both PDA and FLD detectors in series so chromatograms can utilize each method.
    • If molecules are fluorescent and a potential interference in UV-vis absorption occurs one can easily still quantify them.
    • With specific derivative prep methods various biomolecules can be analyzed.
    • Currently used in Environmental Chemistry, Instrumentation and Research.
chemistry instruments
  • Agilent 1100 series quad pump to selectively deliver compounds to MS.
  • Mass spectral analysis utilized to quantify various organic molecules and biomolecules.


Thermal and Electrochemical Instruments

Malvern Isothermal Titration Calorimeter (ITC)
  • Isothermal Titration Calorimeter allows quantification of heat changes when a chemical reactant is titrated into a solution with another reactant.
  • Chemical reaction examples are:
    • ligand or small molecule binding to protein
    • formation of a metal ligand complex
    • demicellization thermal processes, etc. 
  • Currently used in Biochemistry and Research.
Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC)
  • The chemical transitions of a chemical composition can be studied via DSC.
  • Chemical phases changes in the solid state is one example.
  • This instrument is used in Instrumentation and Research.
Electrochemical system
Electrochemical systems: Pine Research WaveNow potentiostat
  • Numerous electroactive molecules can be studied applying numerous methods
    • Cyclic voltammetry, Amperometry. Etc.
  • Methods to study simple redox behavior, quantify electroactive species, and even ascertain different aspects of a chemical system with an electroactive probe.
  • Currently used in Analytical Chemistry or Instrumentation, Environmental Chemistry, and Research.
chemistry instruments
Parr Bomb Calorimeter
  • This instrument is used in the Physical Chemistry labs.  A combustion reaction occurs inside of the stainless steel bomb under pressure with excess oxygen gas.

Synthetic equipment

lab student
Microwave Synthesis 
  • Microwave Synthesis is a greener energy efficient methodology to prepare new chemicals.  The reaction rates are typically orders of magnitude faster than traditional procedures.
  • This instrumentation is typically used in Research.
Microwave Digester
  • This microwave digestion instrument facilitates laboratory analyses. The microwave carousel will allow up to 42 samples so a full lab can digest a few individual samples typically in one lab period and proceed with subsequent chemical quantification.
  • This instrumentation is typically utilized in Analytical Chemistry, Instrumentation, Environmental Chemistry and Research.  

This versatile equipment is due to arrive this Spring.

chemistry instrument

This routine equipment is utilized to remove volatile solvents and isolate various organic and organometallic compounds.

Field Monitoring Instrumentation

Portable ozone monitors
Portable ozone monitors

This instrument can record ozone continuously over several months.  The absorbance measurements can also be set to measure daily changes in ozone by recording the ozone concentration on smaller time intervals such as every 5 minutes.  These instruments are configured to use 110 V or via batteries with solar panels for field deployment.

NOx monitors
NOx monitors

This instrument can record NOx gas in the atmosphere continuously over various time intervals.  It is similar to the ozone monitors and it is typically deployed in remote locations.

XRF: ThermoFisher -Niton 3XLt GOLD
ThermoFisher Niton XRF
  • X-ray Fluorescence instrument uses x-rays to excite atoms in compounds and generates characteristic x-rays of the elements in the sample.
  • X-ray safety training is required.
  • Field portable instrument facilitates field work.
  • It is currently used in Environmental Chemistry and Research. Plus it is demonstrated in an Art Conservation course.
Temp/RH monitor
Temp/RH monitors

This instrument appears to be small enough to add it to the field deployed ozone monitors so that temperature and relative humidity data can also be collected from remote locations.