Pittcon Showcases New and Breakthrough Technologies
This issue of Laboratory Equipment covers the new products and technologies showcased at the 64th Annual Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (www.pittcon.org) being held in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pa., on March 17 to 21, 2013. Pittcon draws more than 17,000 attendees to view the laboratory products from more than 930 exhibitors. This year is an off-year for both the Analytica and Achema conferences, so visitors will only get to see new lab products at Pittcon and possibly ArabLab in Dubai the week before Pittcon (March 10 to 13, 2013). ArabLab has about 10,000 attendees and 750 exhibitors, but less than 10% of the exhibitors at ArabLab are also at Pittcon and vice versa, so attendees at one show will see mostly uniquely new products that are not seen at the other show. Exhibitors at both shows cover the broad range of technology applications including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environment, forensics and medical. Because of their historical and regional strengths, ArabLab covers more petrochemical and environmental applications than Pittcon, while Pittcon covers more food and beverage and drug discovery and development applications than ArabLab.
Most of the exhibitors at ArabLab are associated with companies based in Europe and the Middle East, while most exhibitors at Pittcon are headquartered in the U.S. Equipment manufacturers take advantage of Pittcon to introduce new products or previously announced products for the first time. A few of the larger multinational instrumentation companies will introduce similar products at the two shows, although due to manufacturing timing, the actual product availabilities may be slightly skewed for some countries.
General purpose lab equipment can be used for various applications many of which are showcased at Pittcon. The Black Pearl Viscometer from ATS RheoSystems (Booth 2209), for example, is a high-performance rotational viscometer capable of measuring both steady shear and yield stress in a rugged, compact instrument-size footprint. The device is designed to perform both routine rheological tests, such as single point viscosity checks for QC, and complex rheological evaluations in R&D operations for investigating the mixing, stirring and process flow characteristics of many types of fluid systems. The device comes standard with built-in Peltier temperature controls, and cone and plate, parallel plate and concentric cylinder measuring systems are included in the system.
The Brooks SLA5800 Series elastomer sealed digital thermal mass flow measurement and control products from Brooks Instrument (Booth 702) offer unparalleled flexibility and performance. Industry-leading repeatability ensures a stable process even under changing lab experiment conditions. The controllers offer faster responses, better accuracies and improved control over traditional analog devices. They also contain self-diagnostics and alarms that help to eliminate downtime and are globally approved for use in various service areas.
The AQUACOUNTER Karl Fischer (KF) Volumetric Titrator (AQV-2200S) from JM Science (Booth 143) is rugged, reliable, long-lasting and eco-friendly with small volume titration cells requiring only 20 mL of titration solvent for accurate measurements. This lower reagent volume reduces waste and makes it easier to replace fresh solvent for the next series of experiments. The device is usable across a wide range from 100 ppm to 100% water content with its maximum capability for automation and upgrades. Combining one additional KF station with either a volumetric or coulometric module enables two different measurements to be performed at the same time. With a volumetric and coulometric channel, users can measure moisture over the entire range from 2 ppm to 100%, or double the sample throughput with two identical KF stations. Additional compact burets and snap buret-heads are useful for quick KF reagent exchange or back-titration applications. A two-channel option means easy plug-and-play capabilities. Users can also add various peripherals, such as a second channel, and the system automatically recognizes the new channels and begins working with them immediately. An intuitive control panel display shows current status, data and function keys, which are displayed on a large, color screen.
The Powder Flow Tester from Brookfield Engineering Laboratories (Booth 3224) provides efficient analysis of powder flow behavior. The device is suitable for manufacturers who process powders daily and want to minimize or eliminate the down-time and expense that occurs when hoppers and silos fail to discharge. Users can perform quality control checks on materials, characterize new formulations and match established products. The instrument tests flow function, time consolidation, wall friction and bulk density. The included software, Powder Flow Pro v1.2, allows operators to combine, display and compare data from standard and small shear cell tests in a single graph. A normalized flow function feature enables technicians to predict this behavior and modify the manufacturing process or
hopper design to avoid the problem.
An Automated Humidity Control option has been added to the FlexStream Modular Gas Standards Generating System from KIN-TEK (Booth 340). This allows researchers to add humidity, thereby simulating real sample streams. The system dilutes the emission from permeation or diffusion tubes with an inert gas, typically nitrogen or zero air, to create a trace concentration gas mixture, in ppm, ppb or ppt levels. An internal microprocessor sets the operating mode and adjusts the dilution flow to achieve the required concentrations. The optional FlexStream HG fits into the system as an end module. A portion of the inert dilution gas is saturated with water and mixed with a dry, trace component carrying gas to form the humidified mixture. Humidity is adjusted by varying the ratio of wet to dry gas. Typically, values from 20% RH (relative humidity) to about 90% RH can be achieved.
New analytical instruments
New analytical instruments generally take center stage at Pittcon with their strong technological enhancements and breakthroughs. The DP-R Series Diamond ATR Fiberless Probes from Durasens (Booth 3633) are designed for real-time reaction monitoring using FTIR spectroscopy. The probes connect to spectrometers by means of flexible, articulated optical arms that use only metal mirrors to direct light from the spectrometer to the probe and back. The light path within the arm is enclosed in a purged environment to remove atmospheric interferences in the collected spectra. The arm moves in multiple directions without losing optical alignment to enable the probe to be easily interfaced to reaction vessels in various configurations. Since the DP-R probes don't use fiber optics to transport the IR beam between the spectrometer and the ATR element, they allow for a full spectral range and higher optical throughput.
Thermo Fisher Scientific's Nicolet iS50 FTIR spectrometer (Booth 1835) is the first research-grade FTIR with one-touch operation. This flexible system can be upgraded from a simple FTIR bench to a fully automated multi-spectral range system that can acquire spectra from the far IR to the visible ranges. Users can initiate ATR, Raman, TGA and NIR modules at the touch of a button, performing multiple techniques without manually changing system components. The device's software is designed to take the guesswork out of interpretation, dramatically improving productivity in labs focused on understanding complex materials.
The first in Ocean Optics' Elite series of high-performance spectrometers—Apex (Booth 3029)—overcomes the trade-off between optical throughput and spectral resolution. In conventional spectrometers, the slit can reject up to 95% of the light entering the optical bench. With a high-throughput virtual slit (HTVS) licensed from Tornado Spectral Systems, the Apex spectrometers overcome this compromise. These devices use a large input aperture and specially configured mirrors, lenses and other elements. These components compress, reformat and then expand the light beam, which narrows the input aperture along the dispersion axis while preserving total flux. When combined with precision coatings, volume phase holographic gratings and solid state detector technology, spectrometer throughput as high as 95% is achievable.
The InfraCal 2 Analyzers from Wilks Enterprise (Booth 934) combine improved electronics that improve signal-to-noise ratios with a touch screen intuitive display that allows for multiple new options and features, including multiple calibrations, internal data logging, alarm functions, password protection, data transfer capabilities and an internal battery pack. The result is a compact, rugged package weighing less than 6 lb with no moving parts. This provides improved sensitivity and detection limits for various on-site measurements, such as sub-ppm detection levels of oil-in-water, cleaning of metal parts, flexible film analyses and numerous QC measurements. On-site measurements typically take from one to 10 min and eliminate the wait for off-site lab results, which can take hours or days to receive.
The AutoAnalyzer 3 HR Segmented Flow Analyzer from SEAL Analytical (Booth 2415) contains a digital colorimeter, high-precision pump, multitest manifold, chemistry manifold and XY2/XY3 samplers. The device was recently used to analyze nutrient samples taken around Hawaii to a depth of 4,800 m as part of the Hawaii Ocean Time-Series program (HOT). HOT provides a historical context for understanding the subtle linkages between ocean climate and marine biogeochemistry. Using the AA3, measurements of water column chemistry, currents, optical properties, primary production, plankton community structure, and rates of particle export were successfully made to provide a clear picture of the water column.
Life science testing
The growth and size of testing and tools for life science applications has become an industry unto itself with dedicated instruments and equipment. Thermo Fisher Scientific, for example, recently introduced its Cytomat 10, a fully automated incubator and storage module for high-capacity cell growth and assay incubation.
The Scienceware CultureTemp 37 C Warming Plate from Bel-Art Products (Booth 3825) allows researchers to keep cell cultures out of the incubator for longer periods of time. Cell viability is increased during cell passaging by keeping the cells at an optimal 37 C outside of the incubator. This reduces cell stress and allows enzymes like trypsin to work efficiently. The warming plate minimizes the need to repeatedly enter a CO2 incubator, which disrupts the environment inside the chamber, putting stress on all the cells within the incubator.Designed to fit into the busiest of cell biology or screening labs, the Cytomat 10 offers improved environmental control and can be seamlessly integrated with existing automated assay hardware. The device provides a fast plate access time of less than 10 sec. Additionally, multiple transfer positions and an under-bench version allow flexible incubator placement within the lab. As the first generation of automated incubator with a fully validated thermal decontamination system, the Cytomat 10 is designed to decrease the risk of contamination and reduce assay variability. The thermal disinfection method practically eliminates germs and spore suspensions, even in areas that are difficult to reach via manual cleaning. Based on Thermo's HERAcell incubators, the decontamination is carried out in wet conditions at 90 C, leaving incubators virtually residue-free. The device incorporates humidity control via an external water reservoir, reducing the risk of contamination from an internal source and the need for repetitive incubator access. Additionally, recovery times are virtually eliminated via a heated automatic access door with a small opening.
The Soluprep II solution preparation system from Design Scientific (Booth 659) automatically calculates and dispenses the exact amount of solvent required to prepare precise concentrations based on the mass of solute added by the operator. This speeds up routine sample preparation times and increases accuracy by eliminating volumetric measurements. This automatic preparation of samples can be used for liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, ICP, spectroscopy, viscosity, NMR and other analyses. Time is saved and accuracy enhanced because only the approximate amount of the solvent sample needs to be added to the sample. With this device, typical solution preparation time is less than 2 min with an accuracy of 0.02%. The device also protects lab integrity by storing a permanent file of each sample and its preparation. A self-adhesive label for the prepared solution is automatically printed for each sample.
The CDS-7400 Soil/Water purge and trap autosampler from CDS Analytical (Booth 2149) offers improved reproducibility and compatibility with a variety of purge and trap concentrators. The device features a 72-position autosampler with three removable trays of 24 vials and automated water addition of 5 mL for soil samples. Other features include an internal standard addition, soil heating and stirring, a pick-and-place robotic arm and a separate water station for the transfer of water to the sparge vessel of the attached purge and trap.
Imaging is an increasingly important tool for research labs and one that continues to see increased technological improvements. The ContourGT-I 3D Optical Microscope from Bruker (Booth 2935) has been optimized to accelerate and simplify measurement setup and feature tracking. It is the world's first benchtop profiling system to incorporate Bruker's proprietary tip/tilt head design, along with fully automated functionality, including turret, lenses and illumination. In addition, the system has been designed for maximizing vibration stability and robustness, including a space-efficient, yet stable, footprint with fully integrated air isolation.
The NeoScope from JEOL (Booth 2224) combines 10 to 60,000x high-magnification imaging and comprehensive elemental analysis into a compact, lightweight desktop scanning electron microscope (SEM). The device offers full-featured energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy with SDD (silicon drift detector) technology for advanced analytical applications. The simple-to-use benchtop SEM features multi-touch screen operation, automated operating parameters, selectable low and high volume operation and three selectable accelerating voltages.