Millipore Portable Water-Testing Kit
Science History Institute

Field Water Testing and Analysis Instruments

Field studies are necessary to modern study of the environment. Campaigns that focus on taking samples—whether of air, water, or soil—and analyzing those samples in one location provide tremendous benefits to our knowledge of the environment and of any changes that occur over time. To accomplish such studies, portability of instruments is key. The Millipore portable water-testing kit and the Ocean Optics S-2000 spectrometer are examples of how miniaturization allows researchers both to test and to analyze worldwide.

Scientific instruments are typically not small. As the analytical capability of instruments improved from the 1960s onward, they became even less portable: most spectrometers—often several instruments in tandem, heavy and larger than a standard door frame—weren’t going anywhere outside the lab. But in the past 20 years the increase in complex fieldwork necessitated instruments that can travel outside the lab but still provide the same type of analytical power researchers are accustomed to in the lab.

The Ocean Optics device, developed in 1992, was the first miniature spectrometer the company developed. Today Ocean Optics has a wide range of miniature spectrometers that are smaller, more sensitive, and digitally capable. Owing to their portability they have been used in volcanos and on the Mir space station.

Similarly, the Millipore testing kit, dating back to the 1950s, has been used by not just scientists but individuals like municipal workers. Millipore has also led the charge to send its testing kits to parts of the globe affected by dramatic flooding so that aid workers, government employees, and citizens alike can test their water supply.

Savvy users of analytical instruments, including the atmospheric scientists interviewed by the Institute staff, continue to modify and develop better portable instrumentation.                       

Interested in learning more about Millipore? Check our Distillations article about James Waters, whose analytical instrumentation company, Waters Corporation, merged with Millipore in 1980.