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Instrumentation and Facilities

The laboratories at Whitman College are well equipped with standard equipment including water baths, pH meters, balances, stir plates, Spectronic-20 colorimeters, etc. A number of specialized scientific instruments are also available for use in teaching and student research.


Chromatography is at the heart of analytical chemistry and environmental chemistry. While many types of instrumentation are designed to analyze relatively pure samples, chromatography systems are designed to analyze complex sample matrices (samples containing more than one analyte). We have a number of liquid and gaseous chromatographic systems for use in the classroom and in senior research. These instruments are listed below.

Agilent 6890N-FID/ECD Capillary Column Gas Chromatograph 

Agilent GC-FID/ECDThis system is equipped with an autosampler, capillary split/splitless injector, and flame ionization and electron capture detectors. Peak area and height measurements are completed with a computer control station. Its principle use is the quantitative measurement of hydrocarbon mixtures in water, sediment/soil, and gaseous samples. The instrument is used in instrumental analysis and environmental chemistry labs, as well as student research. Purchased with funding for the Alden Foundation.

Agilent 6890 Capillary Column Gas Chromatograph/5973N Mass Spectrometer

Agilent GC-MSThis is our analytical/environmental GC-MS used to conduct research and teach instrumental analysis and mass spectrometer. It is equipped with an autosampler and EI and CI ionization systems. Purchased with funding from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Whitman College, and Whitman Alumni.

Two Shimadzu 2014 Capillary Column Gas Chromatographs

Shimadzu GCThese systems are used to introduce students to chromatography in our advanced general chemistry course.

Shimadzu GC-14A Packed Column Gas Chromatograph

For use in polymer characterization and surface chemistry research. Purchased with internal funding.


There are many forms of atomic and molecular spectroscopy and we have a variety of instruments in our labs.

Perkin-Elmer PE 400 Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometer with a Hydride Generation System

The Perkin-Elmer PE 400 FAAS is an instrument for analyzing trace metal concentrations in water. It is equipped with a air-acetylene flame burner and can measure part-per-million levels for most metals. It also has a hydride generation system that allows for detection of arsenic, Antimony, Mercury, Bismuth, Tellurium and Selenium. This instrument is used in research, instrumental analysis and environmental chemistry.

Agilent 7500ce ICP-MS

Agilent ICP-MSThis instrument is used to measure isotopic concentrations in aqueous samples or digested solid samples. It is used in research and instrumental methods of analysis. Purchased with funding from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Whitman College, and Whitman Alumni.

Jasco V-550 UV-Vis Spectrophotometer

Jasco UV-VisThe Jasco V-550 UV-Vis Spectrophotometer is a basic scanning UV-Vis system, but with temperature control of the cell. It is used in biochemistry, physical chemistry, instrumental analysis, and environmental chemistry. Purchased with internal funding.

5 StellarNet EPP2000C UV-vis spectrophotometers

These compact photodiode array spectrophotometers (190-900nm) are used in the Advanced General Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis laboratories as well as for research.

14 Vernier LabQuest interfaces with UV-vis spectrophotometers and pH sensors

These versatile and compact devices have photodiode array spectrophotometers and pH sensors and are used in the General Chemistry laboratories.

StellarNet NIR spectrometer

A compact photodiode array NIR spectrophotometers (880-1850nm)that is used in the Quantitative Analysis laboratory as well as for research.

Thermo Nicolet Avatar 360 FT-IR

Thermo Nicolet Avatar FT-IRThis instrument is a workhorse of organic chemistry where students look for the presence of specific functional groups in an effort to identify synthesis products. Purchased with internal funding.

Jasco J-600 Spectropolarimeter

Jasco SpectropolarimeterThis instrument is used to measure circular dichroism typically on protein samples in biophysics lab classes and for research in structural biology. Includes a CD250 Peltier temperature controller from Quantum Northwest. Purchased with internal funding.

Bruker Avance III 400 MHz Ultrashield Plus Spectrometer System

Bruker 400 MHz NMRThe 400 MHz NMR includes a broadband probe tunable from 15N to 19F, with 1H decoupling and a Z-gradient coil, an inverse broadband probe that allows for maximum 1H-observe sensitivity with decoupling that covers the range from 109Ag to 31P and a Z-gradient coil, a variable temperature unit and a 60-slot sample changer. The primary use of the instrument is to characterize the structure and interactions of complex molecules, ranging from simple 1D experiments for 1H and 13C nuclei to 2D experiments such as DQF-COSY, TOCSY, NOESY, HSQC, HMQC, and HMBC. This instrument was installed in January 2010 and is used in organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry labs as well as undergraduate research.

StellarNet HR-TEC-785 Raman Spectrometer

Raman spectroscopy is a complimentary technique to FT-IR spectroscopy that uses inelastic scattering of photons to detect vibrational modes of molecules or materials. Due to the low efficiency of inelastic scattering, a powerful light source is required; our spectrometer is equipped with a 785 nm StellarNet Ramulaser adjustable power laser (max = 499 mW) with attached 1/2’’ vial holder. This instrument was purchased with internal funding at a generous education discount from www.stellarnet.us for use in the physical chemistry curriculum and student research.

Misc. Equipment

Oxford Diffraction Xcalibur Nova X-ray Crystallography System

This instrument is used in courses and research for physics, chemistry, geology and BBMB (biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology). The system includes a Cu-K alpha sealed tube X-ray source, focusing optics, two-dimensional ccd (charged-couple device) detector and a cryogenic cooling system for temperature control of the sample. X-ray diffraction data can be collected on both single crystals (both small molecule and protein) and powders. Faculty and students use the system to analyze a wide variety of samples, including protein crystals, small molecule crystals, mixed amorphous and crystalline polyethylene, metal doped sol-gel glasses, liquids and mineral powders. Purchased with funding for the NSF.

Beckman-Coulter P/ACE MDQ Capillary Electrophoresis with UV diode array detector

This capillary electrophoresis instrument is used to separate charged molecules (inorganic and organic ions such as nitrate, citrate, EDTA and metal complexes) by their charge and size. This instrument as temperature-controlled sample storage with a robotic sampling platform. The UV diode array allows broad analyte detection between 190-350 nm. Currently, faculty and students use this instrument to study ligand exchange kinetics and detect new metal-ligand complexes.

Beckman-Coulter PA800 Capillary Electrophoresis with UV diode array and laser-induced fluorescence detectors

This capillary electrophoresis instrument is nearly identical to the P/ACE MDQ described above, but has an additional laser-induced fluorescence detector (LIF) that can detect specific molecules at very low concentrations. This instrument was donated to Whitman by Seattle Biotech.

3 Pine Instruments WaveNow Potentiostat/Galvanostats

These compact electrochemistry systems can be used to run a number of different electrochemical analyses: Cyclic Voltammetry, Staircase Potentiometry, Differential Pulse Voltammetry, Stripping Voltammetry, etc. These systems are used in the Quantitative Analysis Laboratory and in research.

Field Equipment

A variety of field equipment is available for use in environmental chemistry and in student research. This equipment is primarily used in the analysis of stream samples.

  • Soil corer
  • Van Dorn Water sampler
  • Hach and Orion pH meters
  • Orion selective ion probes (Chloride, Bromide, Fluoride, Nitrate, Nitrite, and Calcium)
  • Hach Conductivity meter
  • Orion dissolved oxygen (DO) probe with a 10-meter cable
  • Turbidity meter
  • Hach DR2010 spectrophotometer
  • Hach model 16900 field titration unit
  • Hach water analyst kit
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