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The AutoAnalyzer™ is a device used in testing the chemical properties of various substances. Designed in the 1950s, the device works by sending a single sample through a variety of testing apparati; the machine creates a report in the fraction of the time once necessary to perform multiple tests. The AutoAnalyzer™ was created for medical testing, but by the 21st century it had been mostly replaced by newer methods. It is still widely used in industrial settings, though.
The AutoAnalyzer™ was invented in the 1950s by scientists working at the Technicon Corporation. Able to measure dozens of fluid samples an hour for a variety of markers such as cholesterol, phosphate levels and proteins, the machine quickly became a valuable tool in hospitals and clinics. By the end of the 1960s, industrial research laboratories had also adopted the AutoAnalyzer™ as a way to quickly test the composition of various compounds.
There are two types of AutoAnalyzers™. The first type is a continuous flow analyzer. A stream of air bubbles carry the sample to various testing apparati within the machine. This process limits the number of samples to roughly 90 per hour. This method is very reliable, though, as it limits the possibility of cross contamination.
The second type is known as a flow injection analyzer. Each sample is dissolved within a solvent before being inserted into the machine. Air is not involved. Parts of the sample are fed into the testing apparati. Though this technology has some limitations, it has allowed AutoAnalyzer™ manufacturers to further reduce the size of their machines. As of 2011, flow injection analyzers are the preferred choice for both medical and industrial testing.
Newer technologies have largely replaced the AutoAnalyzer™ in the medical setting. Machines dedicated to blood and urine testing give much more accurate results and can test for the presence of certain common diseases. For certain tests, however, such as neonatal screening, the machine is still the preferred method.
Though the AutoAnalyzer™ has fallen out of use in the medical setting, it is still a widely used piece of equipment in industrial settings. In the 21st century, the vast majority of these machines are used to test water quality by measuring the levels of cyanide, nitrate and nitrite. Other modern applications include testing for appropriate chemical balances in fertilizer and tobacco. The device's quick results and relatively low price likely ensures that it will remain a part of laboratory testing for many years to come.