How analytical equipment can enhance lab efficiency 

Crystallisation is one of the oldest separation methods and has contributed to the efficient production of high-value products. However, to minimise contamination and maintain precision, control and quality, scientists will often spend up to 20% of their time cleaning equipment before testing. Here Thomas Kendall, application specialist at crystallisation and solid-state specialist Technobis Crystallization Systems, explores how R&D scientists can increase their experimental throughput using next-generation analytical technology.  

Crystallisation chemistry is varied and complex, impacting different scientific disciplines differently — sometimes for better, others for worse. For example, crystallisation is a vital tool in synthetic chemistry for removing impurities that cannot be removed from a synthesis step. Or, take formulation and tableting applications, where crystallisation offers an effective way of producing particles with a specially designed set of properties that give the best performance in formulation and processing. 

However, crystallisation can also be the villain of the process. For example, in liquid formulation for applications such as medicine, you want the compounds to remain in solution and do not want crystals to form, so the patient can take them as a liquid. In these situations, stabilising agents are needed to stop crystallisation from occurring. 

This variety in applications, and the associated challenges, means that studying crystallisation can be time-consuming and resource intensive. This is where next-generation analytical equipment is making impacts in laboratories globally, making scientists’ lives easier and freeing up their time to investigate other factors or getting more information out of a given experiment. This is crucial because the more information scientists can gather, the more effectively they can draw conclusions. So, what are the analytical instruments best suited to help scientists moving forward? 

Next-generation analytical equipment 

New analytical equipment is being designed to work with much smaller operating volumes than was previously possible, with some instruments offering a 20 times reduction in the amount of material needed, compared to traditional solutions. This means scientists can run a lot more experiments using the same amount of material or, in cases where samples are limited, they can gather as much data as before while preserving a lot more of their sample. 

Traditionally, experimental determination of solubility curves relies on labour-intensive techniques. However, thanks to increased automation, gathering solubility data has never been easier. The latest crystallisation instruments allow users to set up their desired experiment and go away, leaving the instrument to run the experiment independently knowing the data will be there, ready to collect and analyse, when they return. 

Cutting out cleaning 

Scientists spend a lot of time cleaning equipment and instruments for their experiments, and, in some cases, this can use as much as 20% of their time. 

Upgrading your processes to take advantage of next-generation analytical equipment and automation does not have to involve an expensive overhaul of your entire laboratory. It just requires careful investments and a strong relationship with a reliable partner who can help you identify the right instrument for your process, taking operational context, such as budgets, available space and in-house expertise, into account. 

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