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Subspecialties Analytical science, Hematology

The Isotopic Doctor

The lightest elements vary in their isotopic composition due to isotope fractionation; this is something we’ve known for quite a while. It occurs when the isotopes of an element do not take part with exactly the same efficiency in a physical process or (bio)chemical reaction. Differences in reaction rates (kinetics) and in equilibrium (thermodynamics), therefore, occur – for example, the lighter of two isotopes will react more quickly, while the heavier will prefer the strongest bonding environment.

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About the Author

Frank Vanhaecke

Frank Vanhaecke is professor of Analytical Chemistry at Ghent University, Belgium.

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