Bruker Corporation’s new elemental analyzer, the Tracer 5i Handheld X-Ray

Published: Fri Feb 16 2018

Pennsylvania State University was awarded an ARPA-E grant in the amount of seven million dollars from the Department of Energy for “DEEPER: An Integrated Phenotyping Platform for Deeper Roots.” The DEEPER project is a method for categorizing the characteristics of root modeling crops that are rooted deeper and incorporates advancements in nondestructive field phenotyping of root modeling, rooting depth with rapid 3D imaging of root architecture and anatomy, gene discovery, and genomic selection modeling. Researchers will locate distinctive characteristics of deep roots using XRF and 3D imaging to obtain the building blocks for the platform. The focus of the grant is to bring forth solutions to improve the condition of soil growing the nation’s crops and treats it as a crucial resource. The contributions of the DEEPER research will help to better position the American bio-economy in a globally competitive market.

Bruker’s Tracer 5i Handheld X-Ray Fluorescence and the M4 TORNADO 2D Micro XRF are the two analyzers considered crucial for the project’s success. The Project Manager of DEEPER, Dr. Molly Hanlon, provided further details: “XRF technology is being used for the LEADER portion of the grant. The goal of the LEADER work is to connect root depth to leaf elemental accumulations which we’ll measure using the TRACER 5i and the M4 TORNADO.”

She explained the research is currently being conducted on the focus crop, corn (maize), utilizing both the field and lab versions of the X-ray fluorescence instruments. She stressed the importance of the speed at which results can be obtained from the impact of changes on live plants. In contrast with prior studies, unique information can be derived from this data because the XRF does not damage the specimens in the process of observing their biological composition.

Bruker’s Portable XRF Business and Market Development for Food Safety and Agriculture’s Kim Russell met with Dr. Jonathan Lynch and Dr. Kathleen M. Brown to discuss the Techâ€"to- Market (TTM) aspect of the grant. Ms. Russell expressed her commitment to working with them and being a part of the DEEPER Project TTM Committee. Bruker’s mission is to provide top-notch equipment providing solutions in science and industry. The analyzers for the DEEPER project have powerful algorithms for analysis, patented SharpBeamâ„¢ technology for precision, and point-and-shoot capabilities for broader applications. The TRACER 5i allows the user to select between different adjustable methods of obtaining samples: air, vacuum, or helium beam path. This results in a more extensive and diverse pool of data. Once the information is stored, it can be manipulated to create 3D images of root systems and the stalk and leaf growth. Researchers will be able to capture the cellular details of the most efficient varieties to share on the DEEPER platform.

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