Sensitivity and robustness top mass spec market demands

Laboratories are looking for ever greater sensitivity and robustness from their mass spec technologies - and the vendors are responding. Sean Ottewell reports.

Bruker's new aurora Elite is an ultra-sensitive inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) designed to complement the workhorse aurora M90 ICP-MS for routine laboratory analysis.

"The new aurora Elite sets unprecedented and truly exceptional standards for sensitivity and matrix robustness, even exceeding the performance of expensive magnetic sector field ICP-MS systems in many aspects, and far exceeding the sensitivity of all other quadrupole ICP-MS systems on the market today," says the company.

The new device boasts a host of performance enhancements and new features, with unprecedented 1.5 gigahertz per parts per million (1.5 GHz/ppm) sensitivity for precise and accurate quantification at single digit ppt levels and below, which, says Bruker, makes the aurora Elite the most sensitive ICP-MS instrument on the market.

Such sensitivity makes it eminently suitable for the semiconductor, geochemistry, materials science and related applications.

The lowest oxide ratios using its patented turner-interlaced coils ensures robust plasma conditions for complete matrix decomposition, all without the requirement of a plasma shield or guard electrode.

The combination of the aurora Elite's high sensitivity with the all-digital detector delivers excellent results for isotope ratio determinations of low concentrations and for large ratios, and this is true for liquids and solids.

The combination of GHz sensitivity with very short integration times makes this an ideal instrument for the analysis of nanoparticles at the smallest dimensions (Fig. 1). The incorporation of an easy-to-use collision reaction interface (CRI II) provides a solution for simple, robust, maintenance-free interference challenges, with the convenience of either helium- or hydrogen mode, for improved detection limits of spectrally interfered isotopes and highest accuracy.

The expanded ICP-MS range from Bruker, including the enhanced aurora M90 and the new aurora Elite, now also offers 21 CFR Part 11 compliance to meet the requirements of pharmaceutical, biotech and contract research organisation customers.

Biomarker collaboration

Agilent Technologies and Applied Proteomics have agreed to collaborate on highly multiplexed protein assays and workflow solutions for multiple reaction monitoring through mass spectrometry.

Proteins perform many important cellular functions, are the targets of most drugs and therapies, and are often used as biomarkers for detecting and monitoring disease.

Applied Proteomics will leverage Agilent 6490 Triple Quadrupole LC/MS, 1290 Infinity LC, RapidFire 360 MS system and Bravo liquid-handling technologies to optimise the throughput of highly multiplexed proteomic assays.

Multiple reaction monitoring, a highly specific and sensitive mass-spectrometry technique, can detect and quantify analytes from plasma, serum and other biological samples. A multiplex assay can simultaneously measure multiple analytes, such as proteins, peptides, metabolites and lipids.

"The ability to quickly and accurately measure, monitor and analyse a large number of protein biomarkers in a single test has important applications for understanding human diseases and developing new clinical diagnostics," said John E Blume, chief science officer of Applied Proteomics. "Agilent's innovation in mass spectrometry is an important part of this collaboration as we work together to expand the capabilities of multiplex protein assays."

Applied Proteomics specialises in a proteomics platform solution with mass spectrometry-based systems control and computational expertise to rapidly collect, process and analyse proteins.

Improved stability

Meanwhile Analytik Jena has extended its latest generation of double-beam spectrophotometers to include the SPECORD 50 PLUS. This new dual-beam UV/Vis photometer is ideal for the spectral range from 190 to 1100 nm and combines high energy throughput with improved stability. Quartz-coated, premium encapsulated optical components guarantee the highest quality, maximum performance and extreme durability.

The SPECORD 50 PLUS offers the right solution for numerous applications: routine analysis or special application in chemistry, pharmacy, medicine, food control, environment, life science and many other areas.

A number of other devices are also available: SPECORD 200 PLUS with fixed spectral bandwidth - ideal for qualitative and quantitative routine photometric applications; SPECORD 210 PLUS with four variable spectral bandwidths - ideal for measuring solutions and solids with highest demands concerning the optical resolution; and SPECORD 250 PLUS with four variable spectral bandwidths and double monochromator for samples with particularly high absorptions and higher stray light quotient.

Key features of the new spectrophotometer include: no warm-up phase, plug and play; large, easily accessible sample compartment for quick change of samples and accessories; internal holmium oxide filter for automatic wavelength calibration; fast, easy lamp replacement; alternative cell position in front of the detector to measure turbid samples; pre-aligned, voltage stabilised radiation sources; unparalleled range of accessories for the automation of routine analyses as well as for special applications; and wide sphere of use - including chemistry, pharmacy, life science, medicine, food, and environmental analyses.[Page Break]

Resistive Glass

PHOTONIS USA, a leading electro-optic manufacturer, has introduced the DART ion mobility spectrometer (IMS), designed for simplified, fast analysis of solids or liquids to easily detect contaminants or qualify material.

The IMS can be used in homeland security, pharmaceutical or laboratory applications.

The spectrometer provides sample analysis in a two-stage IMS configuration. High resolving power (64-150) is achieved using PHOTONIS patented

Resistive Glass technology which is currently used in other IMS applications, and a new photo-etched ion gate that provides the rapid pulsing necessary to produce spectra with high resolving power.

The sample inlet utilises IonSense's patented direct analysis in real time (DART) technology to ionise solid, liquid and gas phase analytes with no special sample preparation.

The new DART IMS is ideal for applications where simplicity, accuracy and speed are required, such as product or food safety, composition analysis and environmental control.

The new spectrometer is the result of a joint development effort between PHOTONIS USA and IonSense to mutually leverage their core strengths in collaboration with researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

IonSense president and ceo Brian Musselman noted: "We were impressed by work from professor Facundo Fernandez's group at Georgia Tech demonstrating the use of PHOTONIS Resistive Glass products for IMS construction, inspiring us to jointly create a Resistive Glass DART IMS product with the best of both technologies."

He added: "Lower gas temperatures and using the DART to produce mainly intact protonated molecules for analysis shows promise as a means to simplify the IMS spectra." IonSense is a leader in analytical tools for food and drug safety, and has developed a series of easy-to-use, low-cost DART source products aimed at routine or specific analysis.

PHOTONIS USA is an industry leader in mass spectrometer sensors and holds several patents on its Resistive Glass products, including one for an ion mobility spectrometer that features this technology.[Page Break]

Ion mobility

In a separate development, PHOTONIS USA has been awarded a European patent for the manufacture of an ion mobility spectrometer built using Resistive Glass technology.

Patents were previously granted in the US for the instrument as well as for other specific products made with the speciality glass.

Resistive Glass creates an electric field to guide or direct charged particles. It consists of alkali-doped lead silicate glass that has been reduced to make the surface a semiconductor.

The patent is the latest of many awarded to PHOTONIS for its innovation and development of improving analytic instrument simplicity and ion flow.

Resistive Glass can be used in the manufacture of capillary inlet tubes, drift tubes, ion guides and other component parts found in most mass spectrometers.

The increased ion transfer results in a 6-10 fold increase ion transmission into the mass spectrometer.

This crucial patent award supports PHOTONIS' global growth strategy by protecting its technology, allowing expansion into markets and applications requiring rapid non-destructive analysis of solid and liquid samples such as homeland security, pharmaceutical analysis, metabolomics, food analysis, detection of counterfeit contents, and process monitoring. [Page Break]

Excellims' new high-performance ion mobility instrument

Excellims has added the new IA3100 model to its line of high-performance ion mobility spectrometry (HPIMS).

HPIMS offers high resolution separation based on an analyte's gas phase ion mobility. The technology delivers resolving power that complements modern chromatography and mass spectrometry analysis. The IA3100 hyphenated chromatography-ion mobility spectrometer system is used for the most comprehensive analytical separation of complex samples.

The benefits of HPIMS are realised through simultaneous separation and detection. Excellims says it provides standalone and transportable configurations with flexible sampling accessories that are a practical solution for laboratory, process and field use.

"The superior separation speed and impressive 70+ resolving power of HPIMS make it an ideal tool for high throughput analysis and screening," notes the company. It can be combined with, or in place of, chromatography and mass spectrometry.

"HPIMS is well suited for applications requiring robust analysis that need to be performed in challenging environments, typically found outside of a lab.

HPIMS provides standalone chemical analysis at lower costs and without added complexity. Excellims GA2100 DirectSpray and RA4100 Research HPIMS instruments are used throughout the world in government and other organisations identifying contamination and detecting counterfeits in food and drug products.

Applications in pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing processes include: reaction monitoring, cleaning verification and content uniformity. In addition, food and drug inspection plus explosives and controlled-substance detection are further applications for the novel capabilities of HPIMS.

Founded in 2005, Excellims Corporation developed the HPIMS technology to answer the needs of government and industry for better alternatives to detecting chemical substances with speed and accuracy.

Recent Issues