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Introduction

What is the Virtual Laboratory of Instrumental Methods of Chemical Analysis

The basic theory and exercises of the Virtual Lab

Lab Exercise of Mass Spectrometry

Lab Exercise of Gas Chromatography


Introduction

The evolution of computer technology brought significant changes in education. Among them, the use of educational software in various scientific fields seems to be the most important one. In addition to conventional software, the use of virtual reality techniques emerges as a new possibility in training students. So far, simulation is the most effective tool in training students in the use of modern instruments of chemical analysis.

The technology advents allow today the building of a virtual laboratory in instrumental methods of chemical analysis. The advantages of such a virtual lab are:

It is clear that for methods as those used in the classical Analytical Chemistry lab (wet - chemical methods), there are still no integrated applications today. However, the techniques of virtual reality seem promising in training students in chemical methods, which need extensive sample handling and motion in space.

What is the Virtual Laboratory of Instrumental Methods of Chemical Analysis

There is no general agreement today about the content of the Virtual Lab. However, it appears that due to the contemporary computer technology, the use of simulation is the basic ingredient of a Virtual Lab. For example, the operation of an analytical instrument can be simulated by a mathematical and/or empirical model. For the recorded signal measurement (number, curve, spectrum) a number of parameters entered by an operator seem to affect both it's quality and quantity. The operator or the student is trained in optimization, calibration and method development for the unknown ('simulated') sample. Simulation of instrument malfunction is also possible. In this last case, the student is trained to cope with such problems by entering proper values for critical parameters or by the proper maintenance.

It is clear that training students in the Virtual Lab has certain advantages. First, it makes possible for students to practise the operation of complicated instruments, such as MS, XRF and others. Second, it offers the posibility for 'hands - on' training in diverse tasks of the lab work, such as sample logistics and administration, data processing, method development, and above all, instrument maintenance and service.

Today's Virtual Lab is using simulation of instrument operation as a primary tool for software development. It is believed that virtual reality techniques will allow simulation of the lab work which needs motion in space (e.g. sample treatment, wet - chemical methods, mobile instruments).

In the following there is a brief description of the lab exercises currently supported by the Virtual Lab.

The basic theory and excersises of the Virtual Lab

The theory, the instrumentation and the exercises of the instrumental methods of analysis are the contents of some popular books. The Virtual Lab is mainly training in instrumentation, method development and data processing of instrumental methods of analysis, completing and even replacing the traditional lab training. However, it appears that the Virtual Lab significally contributes to a better understanding of the principles and the theory of each instrumental method. The use of video clips and 3D diagrams in the Virtual Lab result in a better understanding of the theory of each method.

The educational concept of the Virtual Lab is based on the integration of theory and exercise on a unique platform: the simulation of procedures and operations of instrumental methods of analysis. It provides the student with the opportunity to run instruments and analyze samples without cost, safety or time limitations. It builds experience in each method, it allows flexibility in time schedules and it does not require much of the sometimes limited and isolated lab space.

Lab Excersise of Mass Spectrometry

This lab exercise aims to teach the student the basic principles and the instrumentation of mass spectrometry and the typical procedure for the recording and interpretation of the mass spectrum of an unknown compound. In addition, the student learns how to safely operate a mass spectrometer and also becomes familiar with the basic maintenance procedures of the instrument. More specifically, the following issues are being instructed:

Moreover, the student is being trained in:

Briefly, the exercise consists of the following steps:

Lab exercise of gas chromatography

Principle

This lab exercise aims to teach the student the basic principles and the instrumentation of gas chromatography. The student learns how to assemble a gc system for a particular application and how to develop a gc method. In addition, the student learns how to operate a gas chromatograph, cope with it and apply the basic maintenance procedures.

More specifically, the following issues are being instructed:

In addition, the student is being trained in:

Briefly, the exercise consists of the following steps:

The beginner user

The intermediate user

The advanced user

 

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