What is a Luminometer? And Why Should You Care?
Luminometers have been used in labs for decades, helping to provide easily interpreted answers to molecular questions. The technology is proven and reliable, and – when it comes to water – they’ll let you quickly analyze samples while working in the field.
Luminometers can be used to measure the chemical marker adenosine triphosphate (ATP). That’s a compound found in all types of plant, animal and microbial cells. When it comes to water, you can figure out the size of the microbial population present in a sample based on how much light is produced when ATP reacts with the naturally-occurring enzyme luciferase. That’s the same enzyme that makes firefly tails glow.
The light the reaction produces can be measured by a luminometer. The amount of light generated is directly proportional to how much ATP is present — which immediately shows the level of biological contamination.
One of the key parts of a luminometer is the detector – what’s known as a photo multiplier tube, or PMT. PMTs are very sensitive vacuum phototubes that can detect a range of types of light. You might have heard about them on Big Bang Theory, during an episode where they used a PMT to detect light bouncing off the moon. The show’s writers knew that astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission put an array of five mirrors on the moon to let scientists track if the moon was getting further away from the earth or closer. Astronomers can now shine a laser beam at the moon at a particular spot and use a photo multiplier to receive the signal. You might also know that PMTs are used for many scientific applications, including blood analysis devices in clinical labs – the biggest international driver of PMT production.
PMTs are very sensitive, so if you’re planning to use a luminometer in the field it needs to be fairly rugged. It’s also important to make sure the device is both easy to use and cost effective. LuminUltra’s PhotonMaster luminometer meets these requirements. It’s also USB-powered and fully integrates with LuminUltra’s software, allowing readings to be directly uploaded.
When matched with customized test kits and the LuminUltra Cloud analysis and interpretation software, our luminometer can provide the answers to your water questions.
By Stacey Pineau, LuminUltra Technologies Ltd.
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