How Cool is PFTBA: Tuning Your MS in the Challenger Deep


Not only is perfluorotributylamine a perennial favorite for tuning mass spectrometers, it looks like the flux capacitor!

But that’s not all.

Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), including PFTBA, are used in blood substitutes. Severe blood loss compromises circulation, an effect that can be countered through volume-replacement therapy. However, circulation does the patient little good if what’s in the arteries can’t supply oxygen to tissues. Natural blood’s oxygen-carrying ability is due to the hemoglobin found in red cells. Blood substitutes don’t contain cells; the PFCs are prepared as an emulsion in a complex saline brew, and the tiny suspended droplets of PFC perform as a sort of cell-analog. Such substitutes exhibit effective O2 transport, but also numerous side effects.

Still not impressed? PFCs are used for liquid breathing. Remember in James Cameron’s The Abyss, how they sent Ed Harris down to some outrageous depth? And remember that they first demonstrated the breathable liquid on the other guy’s pet rat? Well the rat part, at least, is real. Total Liquid Ventilation (TLV) in real-world dives by humans is something that I doubt has actually been done. But it’s cool!

I know the movie isn’t set in the Mariana Trench, in fact it’s not even in the same ocean. So in case perhaps I’ve failed to relate the post sufficiently to its title, I’ll throw in something else really cool I learned while researching. If you were to sink Mt Everest in the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, its summit would be more than 7,000 feet underwater.

That’s deep, man.


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