A variety of application-specific spectrometers and combination platforms highlight this year’s Pittcon introductions.

Thermo Fisher Scientific's iCAP 7000 Series with Qtegra software streamlines workflows and minimizes cost per sample. The 64th Annual Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy returned to its roots in the Northeast this year, being held in Philadelphia for the first time. And true to these roots, Pittcon was a stage for new spectrometer introductions and debuts. The modern tale of these introductions lies in the variety of applications spectrometers are now being designed for, such as clinical/medicinal, proteomics, homeland security and environmental. 

For example, AB SCIEX, Framingham, Mass., introduced its new API 3200MD and 3200MD QTrap LCMS/MS, the first in a family of in vitro diagnostic devices that can be used to analyze trace levels of multiple compounds in human samples. The devices can identify both inorganic and organic compounds in specimens. 

“Mass spectrometry is opening new frontiers in clinical diagnostics, especially in vitro diagnostics,” says Rainer Blair, President, AB SCIEX. “It is the beginning of what is going to be a very long and exciting journey.”

MS technology provides the clinical research community with faster results, better multiplexing analysis, more robust, accurate results and a lower cost per test. AB SCIEX’s 3200MD series is registered Class I to provide users with the necessary regulatory security required in the industry. Additional 3200MD series instruments and solutions will be launched into the clinical arena throughout the rest of the year.

In line with its medicinal focus, AB SCIEX also announced a collaboration with the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB). The collaboration focuses on the development of methods and technologies in mass spectrometry-based proteomics, with the overall goal to advance and enhance medical care. ISB researchers will be relying on AB SCIEX’s SWATH technology, a data-independent acquisition mass spectrometry workflow that can quantify almost all detectable peptides and proteins in a complex sample—all in a single analysis.  

“The human proteome is where the human genome was in 1990 when the genome project started,” says Leroy Hood, ISB president and co-founder. “The project did three major things: the democratization of the tools of genomics, it created a complete parts list and it transformed the understanding of virtually every class and type of organism. The same potential lies in front of us with proteomics. And SWATH is going to give us the ability to do global and dynamic analysis. It is a digital approach to the quantitation of proteomics.”

ICP technology

Bruker Corp., Billerica, Mass., showcased its newest ICP/MS instrument, aurora Elite, at Pittcon 2013. With its 1.5 gigahertz/ppm sensitivity, the aurora Elite is the most sensitive ICP/MS instrument currently available on the market. The heart of the instrument is its ion mirror technology, a true 3D focusing of the ion beam, which is what gives it its high sensitivity. It is capable of precise and accurate quantification at single digit ppt levels and below, which makes it well-suited for laser ablation applications, direct sampling of solid samples, nanoparticles and radio isotopes. The combination of the aurora Elite’s high sensitivity with an all-digital detector delivers excellent results for isotope ratio determinations of low concentrations and large ratios. Additionally, the instrument’s sensitivity paired with short integration times caters to the analysis of nanoparticles at the smallest dimensions. 

Bruker's aurora Elite is an ultra-sensitive ICP/MS designed for trace elemental detection. It's the most sensitive ICP/MS currently on the market.The improved sensitivity allows the ICP/ MS to serve additional markets, such as homeland security, where it can be used to meet the ever-lower detection limits for uranium. It can also be coupled to an HPLC for the detection of chromium in water as set by the EPA, among other uses. 

The aurora Elite boasts a unique Collision Reaction Interface (CRI II) that 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.

According to Andrew Toms, ICP/MS Specialist at Bruker Daltonics, this is not the last we will see of the aurora platform. “(Bruker) is actively developing a next generation platform that will maintain the attributes of this one, but be smaller, lighter and even better,” he says. 

Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, Mass., introduced the three-model iCAP 7000 ICP/OES Series with Qtegra Intelligent Scientific Data Solution (ISDS) software. This elemental analyzer facilitates analysis in pharmaceutical, environmental, industrial and food and beverage applications, including regulated environments.

The platform is designed to streamline workflows and minimize cost per sample. It accommodates multiple sample types at high sensitivity, and features an advanced loop sample introduction design to enhance productivity. The instrument’s optics offer high sensitivity, and the swing frequency RF generator is designed for robustness.

The Qtegra ISDS software platform is easy to learn and use. It enables customized workflows in three simple steps from sample introduction through reporting and data interpretation. Pre-optimized methods simplify method development tasks, and method development tools guide users through the process. The software also supports ICP/MS, providing an upgrade path from ICP/OES.

In addition to devices and instrumentation, ICP consumables were also in the spotlight at the show. Glass Expansion, Pocasset, Mass., launched the new CM (control module) platform of its Enhanced Productivity Accessory product line for ICP optical and mass spectrometers. Three levels make up the product line: the Niagara II-CM, the Niagara Plus-CM and the Assist-CM. Each model includes a control module that facilitates installation and operation of the accessory since it houses all of the software, firmware and communication ports necessary for operation. It also simplifies upgrading from one level to the next. 

The Niagara II-CM comprises a 4-port switching valve that eliminates the need for a lengthy washout time between samples. The valve saves time on the backend of sample analysis for ICP/MS or ICP/OES. The Niagara Plus-CM has a 7-port switching valve and programmable uptake pump that eliminates lengthy washout and equilibration time between samples. This valve saves time on the front- and back-end so instead of a 25 percent reduction of cycle time, one can now achieve a 50 percent reduction—enabling analysts to run twice as many samples in the same amount of time. The top-of-the-line Assist-CM combines all the Niagara Plus components with up to four precision syringes, which provide precise delivery of sample and standards to the nebulizer, facilitating lower detection limits and better performance.

Environmental analysis

Thermo Fisher Scientific also introduced the TSQ 8000 Pesticide Analyzer system, a triple quadrupole GCMS system designed to address the needs of high-throughput laboratories performing trace level quantitation in complex matrices. The system is built around Thermo’s TSQ 8000 triple quadrupole GCMS system, but configured for pesticide analysis to help users harness the power of GCMS/MS. The analyzer system includes: a TSQ 8000 triple quadrupole GCMS with preloaded data processing methods; proprietary TraceGOLD column and GC consumables configured for high-performance pesticide analysis; a step-by-step guide for building customized methods; and a 600+ pesticide compound database with retention times and pre-optimized SRMs (selected reaction monitoring).

The TSQ 8000 takes advantage of the modularity and flexibility the instrument’s chromatography section, the Thermo Scientific TRACE 1310 GC. Combined with the mass spectrometer, this design enhances productivity, performance and robustness.Spectro's SPECTROSCOUT EDXRF analyzer packs the speed, precision and power of a lab instrument into a compact, field-portable instrument.

The determination of elemental compositions onsite from mining and geological field operations to remote environmental locations can present substantial challenges. Real-time analytical results are essential for assessing progress, and accuracy is a necessity at all detection levels. SPECTRO Analytical’s SPECTROSCOUT Portable Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) analyzer meets these challenges to provide users with laboratory-quality analysis in remote locations. Weighing only 26 lb, the SPECTROSCOUT packs as much power as a standard benchtop laboratory analyzer, and its speed and precision in the field enables faster decision-making and enhanced productivity. 

The EDXRF unit provides highly precise measurements from trace to minor and major concentrations across a range of relevant elements from heavy elements, such as uranium, to light elements, such as sodium, with rapid (typically 10 to 15 min) turnaround. Its easy touchscreen interface provides full access to all analysis results and measured spectra, and the instrument’s unique iCAL calibration takes just one sample and 5 min for standardization. Other features include a large sample compartment, X-ray tube, onboard processor, high-yield battery pack and an optional integrated video system for precise spot testing and image storage.

Other technologies

Microsaic Systems, Woking, United Kingdom, bases its mass spectrometer solutions on MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) technology. The new Microsaic 4000 MiD is a fully integrated, versatile and portable MS system designed for bench chemists. Uniquely, the instrument’s core technologies are chip-scale versions of traditional MS components, which can be interchanged rapidly by the user. The 4000 MiD brings together two high-tech fields—mass spectrometry and silicon micro-engineering—to make a transformative capability in detection possible. 

Microsaic’s chip-based MS instrument boasts a smaller footprint than its predecessor, the 3500 MiD, launched in January 2011. The small footprint allows the mass spectrometer to be deployed in a wider range of applications—some that were previously hard to address. The device fits easily into a standard fume hood, and does not require a floor pump or separate PC. The size benefits extend even further as the instrument only consumes a fraction of power demanded by other devices, making it a suited tool for placement in modern green laboratories. The 4000 MiD is integrated with existing chromatography equipment, and is ideally suited to reaction and process monitoring.

Microsaic's chip-based mass spectrometer, the 4000 MiD, opens enhanced opportunities in the field of reaction monitoring.Magritek, Wellington, New Zealand, introduced Spinsolve, a compact NMR spectrometer that brings fast, high-resolution NMR spectroscopy to the chemistry bench or classroom. The Spinsolve NMR spectrometer uses standard 5-mm NMR tubes, enabling quick sample loading and unloading. This is especially important in a classroom setting, where the ability to make a meaningful measurement and get on and off the instrument quickly is imperative. The NMR spectrometer acquires spectra in seconds and is easy to use—designed for users with little training. Once the spectrum is acquired it can be viewed immediately, printed or sent via email or network to another location for further analysis. The data can be easily opened in third party NMR software.

Wyatt Technology, Santa Barbara, Calif., took Pittcon as an opportunity to introduce a unique new instrument—its Optilab UT-rEX (UHPLC refractometer with EXtended range)—the first RI detector specifically designed for use with UHPLC systems using columns packed with small beads. 

Wyatt used a combination of miniaturized components, cutting-edge semiconductor photodiode technology and proprietary computer algorithms to launch the UT-rEX as a suitable addition to UHPLC. Considering the small peak volumes of UHPLC, the mixing volume from the UT-rEX is kept to the absolute minimum at less than 1.5 μL as compared to 20 to 40 μL or more for other RI detectors. As a result, the resolution from UHPLC columns and instruments is not compromised with the UT-rEX RI detector. In addition, the full range of instrument detection is always present, and the full sensitivity exists over the entire range. 

It can be operated below ambient temperatures as easily as above ambient. No-hassle temperature control can be programmed down to 4 C or as high as 50 C. The RI detector is compatible with all UHPLC systems.


As part of a three-year program originally announced at Pittcon 2011, ACD/Labs has released the third component to its Spectrus software—Spectrus DB. ACD/Spectrus Processor and ACD/Labs Spectrus Workbooks were previously unveiled at Pittcon 2011 and 2012, respectively. With the last component now in place, the Spectrus platform puts an end to the “one and done” life cycle of analytical data in order to aid chemistry groups who are trying to maximize their return on investment for data generation.Magritek's Spinsolve NMR spectrometer uses standard 5-mm NMR tubes to enable quick sample loading and unloading.

With the vendor-neutral Spectrus platform, ACD/Labs builds upon its desktop applications and algorithms to unify chemical and analytical information. Live data can be searched and reanalyzed and chemical intelligence can be reapplied. The result is what ACD/Labs calls “information from intelligence,” or a live cycle that brings unified laboratory information to those across the entire organization. Spectrus DB can be integrated with existing informatics systems to enhance capabilities. It allows users to make better use of existing technologies, while providing its own powerful tool to preserve and reuse the information generated within one’s own company.

Torion Technologies, American Fork, Utah, launched CHROMION Release 1.1, a complete GCMS analytical PC software package with quantitation capabilities, advanced proprietary peak deconvolution and customized peak identification algorithms. The software platform is a powerful tool for evaluation of mass spectral data. Operation of the software is simple, and evaluation of the results is achieved using an easy-to-learn Windows-based graphical user interface. 

The capabilities of the new software include internal, external and averaged standard calibration, multiple curve fitting and quantitation using selected ions. Individual compounds can be identified and quantified from complex matrices with ease and speed. The ability to search mass spectra from unidentified compounds against the NIST standard reference library is integrated into the CHROMION software. It is easy to add a compound to either the target compound library or a general library. Existing libraries can also be imported into the software for editing. 

Whether for clinical, pharmaceutical, environmental or the classroom, spectrometers and the technology behind them took center stage once again at Pittcon 2013—as they seem to do most years at the largest annual laboratory conference in the U.S.