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Application Note: FT-IR instrumentation takes on responsibility for its own performance verification

Thermo Fisher Scientific : 07 April, 2011  (Special Report)
Increased confidence for scientists from FT-IR instrumentation in their results during Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) testing means they are able to focus on handling the ever growing number of samples produced and letting the responsibility for performance verification go to the instrument itself.
The Thermo Scientific FT-IR instrument is designed to result in improved efficiency within the laboratory and simplify the process of complying with regulatory requirements.

The main function in QA/QC testing is to determine whether or not a product meets control specifications in relation to its identity, composition or purity. Each stage of QA/QC testing is defined by strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) due to the importance of product quality. Performance Verification routines provide regulatory and audit level detail on spectrometer performance, testing FT-IR systems against manufacturer-published specifications. Not having to worry about the performance of their apparatus means the analyst can devote more of their time to more critical matters.

An example of how the process of QA/QC has been simplified can be seen by looking at polymer blends of polyethylene and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), which are used for making food packaging films and hot melt adhesives. The raw materials contain EVA at various concentrations blended with polyethylene. To provide the correct functionality of the polymer film, the EVA concentration of production lots must be controlled within very tight limits. Spectra from samples with a range of EVA concentrations are obtained and saved as references. Following this the FT-IR spectrometer is used to routinely verify that material from the production line is at the expected polymer blend level using the Thermo Scientific QCheck algorithm with its unique high sensitivity setting to highlight very small but important differences that may be present in the sample. This allows the QC laboratory to quickly confirm the polymer blend with a high level of confidence in the results.

'We continue to strive to make the process simpler for analysts. New advances in both FT-IR spectrometer hardware and software are moving responsibility for instrument performance from the analyst to the instrument itself,' comments Brian Davies, vice president and general manager of molecular spectroscopy and microanalysis Thermo Fisher Scientific. 'Performance Verification and System Suitability tests notify users when their spectrometer is ready to be used, while features such as QCheck allow single product classification. This means the analyst can focus more on processing samples in the laboratory and do not need to gain an in depth knowledge of every part of the FT-IR operation.'
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