Designed as a synergistic component of a chromatographic system, the ACQUITY QDa Detector is compatible with most Waters’ chromatography offerings.Waters’ new QDa Detector gives users the power of mass detection for chromatography analyses without the cost, complexity or hassle.

Mass spectrometry has become the gold standard of detection in the chromatography analysis section of research labs. Mass detection is an orthogonal, complementary technique to optical detection techniques, such as those used with PDA (photodiode array) detectors on chromatography systems. Utilizing mass detection techniques, researchers can discriminate between analytes of similar absorbance properties, enabling the confirmation of compounds and purity levels. But while chromatographers appreciate the high-quality mass spectral data these devices provide, they often struggle with device complexity and the high level of skill required to operate them. Most mass spectral techniques are also costly, entail large systems and often require sample-specific adjustments.

Waters Corp., Milford, Mass., recently introduced its new ACQUITY QDa Detector, the first mass detector specifically designed to provide high-quality mass spectral data for chromatographic separations. Designed as an integrated synergistic component for the company’s chromatography systems, the QDa is compatible with proprietary UPLC (UltraPerformance LC) instruments, UPC2 (UltraPerformance Convergence Chromatography) system, SFC (supercritical fluid chromatography) and LC-based purification systems. Robust, reliable and requiring no sample-specific adjustments, the QDa seamlessly integrates with these devices.

The QDa is a small single quadrupole mass spectrometer intended to be integrated into existing Waters chromatographic systems running Empower 2 and 3 Chromatography Data System (CDS) software, including enterprise deployment with automated qualification. Empower 3 makes mass and UV spectral data processing as integrated as the separations systems they were acquired on. The QDa Detector is also available for MassLynx 4.1 mass spectrometry software.

The main goals of this mass spectrometer are to be easy to use and reliable for routine analyses. Used alongside optical detectors, it can provide useful additional spectrometric data and allow users to detect compounds that are “invisible” to common optical detectors (like compounds that have no ultraviolet response). The QDa enhances the value of every analysis and increases productivity by eliminating the need to run additional assays or turn to time-consuming alternative techniques in order to establish—with certainty—the levels and identity of specific sample compounds.

The QDa was designed with an eye toward innovation—it has 37 patent/patent-pending designs, for example, to provide solutions to the complexity, cost and size issues that have hindered the adoption of traditional mass spectrometry to everyday use. The compact device runs quieter than a traditional mass spectrometer (it has a smaller vacuum pump), while also using less power than the traditional device. The QDa automates sample analysis, eliminates the need for sample specific adjustments, and makes it possible to obtain spectral data by just flipping a switch. Simply power on the device and you’re ready to go. There is zero user set-up optimization, calibration or adjustments. When you’re done with the analysis, you just power off the system. And even though the QDa detector has dimensions close to that of a traditional photodiode array detector, it is powerful enough to generate high-quality spectral data close to that of a single quadrupole mass spectrometer. From a cost standpoint, the QDa runs about twice the cost of a traditional PDA, while less than half the cost of a traditional mass spectrometer.

With the QDa, users minimize the risk of unexpected co-elutions and can confirm trace components with certainty because of their analytical confidence of mass detection. Analytical values and productivity of each analysis are thus enhanced and the time and the cost of submitting and obtaining similar results from outside specialist labs are eliminated.