What Are Stable Isotope Techniques?
A class of atoms with the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus is called isotopes, which can be divided into stable isotopes and radioactive isotopes. The nucleus of a radioactive isotope is unstable, and it decays into another isotope by spontaneously emitting particles. Isotopes that are not radioactive are called stable isotopes. There are more than 1700 kinds of isotopes in nature, of which there are more than 270 kinds of stable isotopes. Compared with radioactive isotopes, stable isotopes have the advantages of safety, no pollution, and easy control.
Stable isotope analysis is the premise of separation research, production and application, and it is an indispensable part of stable isotope science and technology. Analysis of stable isotopes can be performed by combining various analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, and liquid chromatography. Stable isotope techniques are used in various applications in different fields such as chemistry, biology, geology, and environmental science. In this article, we will focus on the applications of stable isotope techniques in various fields.
Applications of Stable Isotope Techniques
Stable Isotopes in Geology
By harnessing the power of stable isotopes, geology has been explored through isotope analysis of the geological history of rocks, minerals and water resources. The stable isotopes of oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen are used to determine the source of water in aquifers and the origin of minerals in rocks. The analysis of stable isotopes of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen is also used to study the carbon and nitrogen cycles in ecosystems.
Stable Isotopes in Environmental Science
Stable isotope technology is widely used in environmental science to study the fate and transport of pollutants in the environment. The analysis of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen is used to determine the source of pollutants in the environment such as pesticides and fertilizers. The analysis of stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen is used to study the movement of water in rivers, lakes, and groundwater.
Stable Isotopes in Proteomics
The pioneering use of stable isotopes for labeling proteins and their modifications has enabled proteomics research with extreme precision. This is critical for deciphering and comprehending the convoluted pathways of cellular processes and unraveling the intricacies of disease mechanisms. For example, stable isotope labeling can be used to compare protein expression levels between healthy and diseased cells, to monitor changes in protein levels over time, and to identify specific modifications that occur in response to cellular stimuli.
Stable Isotopes in Medicine
Stable isotopes can be used to track the metabolism and biochemical pathways of drugs, nutrients, and other important molecules in the body. Some of the common stable isotopes used in medicine include Carbon-13 (13C), Nitrogen-15 (15N), Oxygen-18 (18O), and Deuterium (2H). The ability of stable isotopes to provide precise and quantitative measurements of biological processes makes them an invaluable tool in modern medicine.
Stable Isotopes in Food Safety
To abide by the rigorous requirements of food safety, the current thrust of research is towards detection technology that harbors high selectivity coupled with high sensitivity. In this regard, the stable isotope analysis technology that showcases itself as an excellent contender, capable of detecting sundry harmful substances known to lurk within our food, such as food additives and pesticide and veterinary drug residues. Moreover, stable isotopes are proficient in identifying the geographical origin, production methods, and authenticity of food products. For instance, the Oxygen-18 and deuterium isotopes hold the power to unmask the geographical origin of water utilized in food production. The isotopic composition of these elements varies depending on the source of the water, such as groundwater or surface water.

Author's Bio: 

Alfa Chemistry