The Isotopic Doctor
High-precision isotopic analysis of essential metals is beginning to show real promise for medical diagnoses. Here, I share some of the progress in this exciting application area.
Frank Vanhaecke |
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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