Press Releases

Picarro Launches New Isotopic Water Vapor Analyzer

Sunnyvale, CA -- Picarro, Inc. has introduced a unique gas analyzer to precisely measure oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in water vapor, important markers used in source of origin monitoring, and water cycle and climate studies. This new analyzer fills a previously unmet need for continuous, in situ, moisture and isotopic ratio measurements.

Since it can be deployed in the field as well as the laboratory, the Picarro Isotopic water vapor analyzer will be key in environmental studies such as understanding the global water cycle. For this application, this analyzer eliminates the need for flask sampling and enables fast, continuous, on-site isotopic measurements which simply cannot be done with larger, costlier IR-MS systems.

Industrial applications include pinpointing sources of moisture contamination in manufacturing processes and accurately measuring the point of origin of foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, the analyzer reports precise total moisture concentration measurements in addition to isotope concentration.

"Isotopes are notoriously difficult to measure because of the complexity and cost of legacy techniques like magnetic sector mass spectrometers," said Michael Woelk, President and CEO of Picarro. "The Picarro Isotopic Water Vapor Analyzer is a huge step in simplifying and cost reducing isotopic measurements for scientists and engineers regardless of skill level, point-of-measurement or budget." Based on a new, compact platform, the analyzer measures single spectral features in a flow cell with an effective path length of up to 12 kilometers resulting in increased sensitivity, selectivity, precision, and data quality. Its high resolution and resulting specificity enable it to discriminate between closely spaced spectral lines arising from different isotopic compositions in the sample gas. The analyzer is exceptionally rugged, offers extremely low drift, is basically maintenance free, and requires no consumables, thereby offering customers significant ease of use and cost of ownership benefits.

Recently, stable isotope techniques have been used to enhance micrometeorological studies of the biosphere-atmosphere exchange processes in ecosystems. They are increasingly being used to address challenging problems such as identifying the primary components of net carbon and water fluxes to help evaluate their response to climate variations and land use change. The ability to detect equatorial to polar regional variations of these isotopic markers further enables studies to understand climate change through time.

The analyzer is based on the company's exclusive implementation of cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS) technology, originally developed at Stanford University and licensed in 1999 to Picarro, where it has been further developed and commercialized.