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1. (WO2007000592) A METHOD OF SPECTRAL ANALYSIS AND AN APPARATUS FOR PERFORMING THE METHOD
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Claims

1. A method of determining the concentration of at least one component in a liquid sample, the method comprising the steps of directing light from a light source into an integrating sphere, mounting a sample holder containing the liquid sample to or adjacent the integrating sphere, to expose the sample to the light, withdrawing light from the sphere, performing a spectral analysis on the light to provide data relating to the intensity of light at least at certain predetermined wavelengths, processing the data from the spectral analysis to determine the presence of and concentration of said at least one component and displaying or printing information generated during the processing step.

2. A method according to Claim 1 wherein the light has a predetermined spectral range.

3. A method according to Claim 1 wherein the light has a substantial component in the near-infrared range.

4. A method according to any one of the preceding Claims in which the light source is pulsed to give successive pulses of light.

5. A method according to Claim 4 wherein the step of withdrawing light from the sphere is effected after the end of a pulse of light.

6. A method according to Claim 4 or 5 wherein successive pulses of light have a different spectral content.

7. A method according to any one of the preceding Claims wherein the light directed into the integrating sphere is polarised.

8. A method according to any one of the preceding Claims wherein the liquid is transparent to at least part of the frequency spectrum of the light and the sample holder is mounted between the light source and the integrating sphere so the light passes through the sample before entering the sphere.

9. A method according to any one of Claims 1 to 9 wherein the sample holder is mounted to the integrating sphere to expose the sample to light within the sphere.

10. A method according to Claims 9 wherein the light directed into the integrating sphere is focussed on to the sample.

11. A method according to Claim 9 or 10 comprising the step of adjusting the optical characteristic of the sample holder by altering the reflectance/absorbence/transmittance of part of the sample holder remote from the interior of the integrating sphere.

12. A method according to any one of the preceding Claims wherein the liquid is opaque to at least part of the frequency spectrum of the light.

13. A method according to any one of the preceding Claims wherein the liquid is blood.

14. A method according to any one of the preceding Claims wherein the component is selected from the group comprising alcohol, glucose, haemoglobin, sodium, or potassium.

15. An apparatus for performing spectral analysis of a liquid sample, the apparatus comprising an integrating sphere, the integrating sphere having a light inlet and a light outlet, the integrating sphere having an aperture to receive a sample container, there being a sample container engageable with the aperture, the sample container having a convex wall, the convex wall having a radius of curvature substantially equal to that of the interior of the integrating sphere, the arrangement being such that when the sample container is mounted to the integrated sphere the convex wail of the sample container is substantially aligned with the interior of the sphere.

16. An apparatus according to Claim 10 wherein the aperture to receive the sample container is the light inlet.

17. An apparatus according to claim 10 wherein the aperture to receive the sample container is spaced from the light inlet.

18. An apparatus according to Claim 17 wherein part of the sample container remote from the convex wall is provided with a light reflective property.

19. An apparatus according to Claim 17 wherein part of the sample container remote from the convex wall is provided with a light absorbent property.

20. An apparatus according to Claim 17, 18, or 19 wherein part of the sample container remote from the convex wall is provided with a light transmissive property.

21. An apparatus for performing spectral analysis of a liquid sample, the apparatus comprising an integrating sphere, the integrating sphere having a light inlet and a light outlet and having an aperture spaced from the light inlet to receive a sample container to expose a sample in the sample container to light in the integrating sphere, a part of the sample container having a light reflective on a light absorbent property.

22. An apparatus according to any one of Claims 18 to 21 wherein the sample container is associated with a removable element, the element providing the light reflective or a light absorbence property.

23. An apparatus according to Claim 22 wherein the removable element is in the form of a spectral filter.

24. An apparatus according to Claim 15 and substantially as herein described with reference to and as shown in Figures 6 and 7 of the accompanying drawings.

25. Any novel feature or combination of features disclosed herein.