Tag Archives: mass spectrometry

Bench to Bedside: Advances in Next-Generation Mass Spectrometry

Changing IdeasIf you’re a seasoned reader of this blog, you know we get excited about the many ways mass spectrometry continues to revolutionize both scientific research and practical applications. Last October, distinguished experts in various scientific fields gathered in Chicago to talk about the next generation of clinical mass spectrometry and the future of precision medicine. In this post, we salute these dedicated researchers that we trust, in part, are using dedicated lab furniture like ours to keep their mass specs working quietly and efficiently on all their ground-breaking projects,

Touting Next-Generation Mass Spectrometry at AACC

The Chicago gathering was the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s fifth annual Mass Spectrometry and Separation Sciences for Laboratory Medicine Conference. Each of the eminent speakers opened a window into their own lab’s work in pioneering clinical mass spectrometry. From various omics biomarkers to toxicology, drug dosing, and tissue imaging, next-generation lab research is making a difference in a variety of fields. Here is what some of the distinguished speakers had to say.

Newborn Metabolic Screening

Michael Bennett, PhD, is professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania and also directs The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s clinical chemistry and metabolic disease laboratory. In his presentation, he outlined how mass spectrometry is being used to assess for metabolic disorders in newborn screenings. His team is also profiling organic acids to diagnose a variety of metabolic disorders, especially where secondary xenobiotics have complicated assessments in the past.

Tackling Toxicology Testing

Hans Maurer, PhD, is head of the department of experimental and clinical toxicology and a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Saarland University in Germany. He opened the conference and set the tone with results of his lab’s toxicology innovations using high-resolution mass spectrometry.

Orbitrap and time-of-flight technologies are bringing greater mass detection accuracy to various drug assessment procedures, including screening, metabolism studies, quantitation and monitoring. All this can be done with shorter prep times and smaller samples, easing MS optimization and providing higher selectivity and sensitivity.

Innovative Tissue Imaging

Richard Caprioli, PhD, is director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center and holds the Stanford Moore Chair in Biochemistry at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He and his colleagues have used an advanced pixel array to illuminate tissue biopsies and laser ablation images at single mass-to-charge values.

This MS technique can be used with single cells or entire research animal sections, and results have already been gleaned with diabetic renal glomerulus, histology-directed analysis using frozen and paraffin-embedded tissues, and diagnosis of malignant melanoma.

Biomarker Advances

Of course, how quickly these exciting next-generation advances take hold is dependent on lab researchers’ capacity to translate emerging biomarkers from bench to bedside. Yan Victoria Zhang, PhD, director of the clinical mass spectrometry and toxicology lab and associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Rochester in New York, discussed this in greater detail.

She shared some of the challenges labs are facing in this field, including human proteome complexity, a dearth of coherent research pipelines, and the need for sample collection standardization. But work is underway, with MS specialists using MALDI and electro-spray platforms to produce integral contributions.

Innovative Dedicated Lab Furniture for Pioneering Lab Work

We are confident that with the help of both mass specs and the dedicated lab furniture on which they stand, there are no limits to the problems mass spectrometry can solve. To learn how our dedicated lab furniture can help your lab get the most out of its MS, contact us today.


Keeping Up with Mass Spectrometry Innovation: A Buyer’s Guide

ChoiceInnovation is always the name of the game, isn’t it? The inventors of mass spectrometry would have a hard time recognizing today’s mass specs and the dedicated lab furniture that keeps these modern marvels running most efficiently. The types of MS units available are almost as varied as their uses.

Let’s cut through some of the clutter by focusing on some of the latest mass specs to hit the market and connect you with further information on the top manufacturers of these marvels of innovation.


This company’s Lipidyzer allows any lab to perform advanced lipidomics with ease. Its one-stop benchtop platform accurately and quickly quantifies over a thousand lipid species. Specifically designed software assists with species identification and biological interpretation. The platform also utilizes cloud-based data sharing with access to mass spectrometry specialists.

Thermo Fisher Scientific

For assistance in screening a broad range of complex compounds, the Q Exactive™ Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer is your choice. Eliminate isobaric interferences with a resolving power of up to 140,000 FWHM. Fast scan at 12hz for UHPLC applications. Detect singly charged small molecules with extended mass range of 6,000m/z. A variety of additional features make this MS suitable for multiple applications ranging from toxicology and food safety to drug discovery and proteomics.

Two New Mass Spectrometry Solutions from Shimadzu

Shimadzu’s GCMS-TQ8040 combines three proprietary processes in its triple quadrupole MS. Smart Productivity firmware assesses as many as 32,768 transitions in a single analysis. Smart Operation software automatically sets analytical conditions for painless method development. Smart Performance utilizes an extremely efficient ion source and collision cell for low detection limits, while the analysis mode provides both accurate low-level quantitative data and high-quality searchable fragmentation spectra within just one analysis.

And Shimadzu’s LCMS-8060 transforms tandem MS speed with a machine that is durable as well as extremely sensitive. This workhorse would be at home on any modern piece of dedicated lab furniture.

Three New Mass Specs from Waters

Our last group of new lab marvels comes from Waters. For the pharmaceutical research and development lab, choose the Biopharmaceutical Platform Solution with UNIFI. LC and MS characterization data can be comprehensively and routinely acquired, processed, and reported for every step in a biotherapeutic’s development lifecycle. Optical-detection UNIFI and UPLC bioseparations provide a foundation, while you can leverage MS to fully annotate your peptide map by using their patented technology to obtain exact mass precursor and fragment ion information.

To save time and money in your lab, Waters has now introduced mass spectrometry that needs no chromatography or sample preparation. The REIMS Research System with iKnife Sampling accurately generates a mass spec profile in just a few seconds. Detailed molecular information is generated by absorbing information-rich vapor directly from the sample’s surface with the hand-held iKnife sampling device. Like the once-ingenious computer mouse with its long tail, the iKnife utilizes a long, flexible connection between mass spec and sampler, allowing researchers freedom of movement around the lab.

If you want a complete package, go with the Waters Vion IMS QTof Mass Spectrometer, which integrates ion mobility with their innovative iKnife system. This benchtop platform—which can fit handily on one of our custom pieces of dedicated lab furniture—uses ion mobility to clarify every spectrum, simplifying data interpretation. This system allows for greater selectivity than a traditional tandem system.

Dedicated Lab Furniture for Every MS Need

In addition to the latest MS advances discussed above, there are of course a number of manufacturers:

There are so many MS suppliers today and a variety of different types, sizes, and shapes of mass specs on the market, each tailored to meet the needs of particular labs and their tasks. Because we customize our dedicated lab furniture, we can provide a suitable and safe lab bench for any mass spectrometry device your lab uses. To learn more, contact us today.

Mass Spectrometry: Ending the Baseball Steroid Era?

?????????????????????????????????????????????Spring is in full swing and the crack of the bat can be heard in baseball fields around the country. As the country’s attention once again turns to the “boys of summer,” we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the continued growth in the number and types of uses being found for the faithful—and increasingly sophisticated—mass spectrometry machines. You see, catching cheating players at their underground steroid game can go a long way toward bringing back confidence in America’s favorite pastime. It can also prove, once again, that the mass spectrometer is a jack-of-all-trades, with unlimited potential in improving the quality of our lives.

Stopping the Steroid Game

As any baseball fan knows, keeping steroids out of the game has become a major issue for Major League Baseball. It sometimes seems that the possibly offending baseball players are always one step ahead of the drug testing protocols. However, the latest improvements in anabolic steroid testing may even out the race and potentially put an end to the “Steroid Era.” Researchers at both Purdue University and Beijing’s Tsinghua University are using tandem mass specs for reactive desorption electrospray ionization.

The breakthrough is occurring on multiple levels: speed, diversity and sample size. This new protocol can test one sample per second, allowing research labs to keep pace with any testing procedure. That one-second test can also identify a full seven different types of steroids, widening the “strike zone” for catching cheating players. And finally, only a single drop of urine is needed to perform these tests.

Mass Spectrometry Advances That Are Under the Radar

Of course, catching dishonest superstar athletes will make headlines. But there are other excellent mass spectrometry uses being developed and refined as well. Here are a couple more impressive things biology researchers are doing with mass specs these days:

– HIV Research: With mass spectrometry, increasingly larger molecules are being completely analyzed today, including proteins, carbohydrates and nucleic acids. Recently, virologists were able to use mass spectrometry to increase their understanding of how the human immunodeficiency virus goes about assembling itself once it has invaded a host cell. We expect that this understanding will be an important step in determining how to prevent the virus from taking over cells in the future.

– Monitoring Anesthesiology: One of the many bodily functions that must be monitored during surgery is the respiratory quotient. Calculating the volume of carbon dioxide produced, divided by the volume of oxygen consumed, allows anesthesiologists to determine whether patients are getting sufficient oxygen—and eliminating enough carbon dioxide—during surgical procedures. Mass spectrometers can measure the metabolic gas exchange taking place in patients undergoing surgery, allowing oxygen flow to be adjusted with confidence.

Dedicated Lab Furniture for a Better Workplace

These are just a handful of the exciting developments happening in mass spectrometry. We’d love to highlight what your lab is doing, if you want to let us know. Meanwhile, keep your mass specs working smoothly and your lab conversations at a reasonable volume by investing in our dedicated lab furniture, which muffles MS vacuum pump sounds by a full 75 percent. That way, in addition to enhancing your lab’s safety and efficiency, you won’t have any trouble listening to this summer’s baseball games if your workload keeps you in the lab for a few extra hours.


Lab Design with Soundproofing in Mind

Sometimes lab QuietBench_Shh1design and lab safety go hand in hand. This is especially true with noise. While dedicated lab furniture contributes to noise reduction, as we talk about often, so can lab design when it comes to soundproofing.

After all, it can be just as difficult to focus on your experiments when you’re able to hear instrument noises and voices from an adjoining lab coming through the walls, as it is if the sound is emanating from an unenclosed vacuum pump beneath the mass spectrometer you are using. As we often point out, it is critical to create a quiet lab environment for safety and the sake of the work being conducted.

Understanding Wall Design and Soundproofing

Many people think that insulation is the only variable that matters when it comes to soundproofing a wall. This is not the case, however. To understand why, we need to remember two basic physics lessons.

The first is that sound travels more easily through connected materials (aka “structural paths”) than it does through empty space. This matters because conventional or “standard” walls are constructed by nailing drywall to either side of a single row of studs. As a result, sound travels from the drywall on one side, through the stud, and out through the drywall on the other side—thus easily transmitting sound through the wall, from one room to another.

The second physics lesson tells us that the empty spaces between sections of drywall and the spaces between studs also transmit sound—although not as much as a structural path. This is why many lab designs incorporate insulation into those empty spaces between the walls. But insulation is usually insufficient because it’s just filling in the holes between the structural paths, which remain in place.

Laboratory Design with Soundproofing in Mind

A common solution in the past has been to add more insulation, creating thicker walls but not solving the problem because the structural paths remain, transmitting sound between rooms.

One of the newer solutions to come along in lab design is the idea of a staggered-stud or decoupled wall. In this case, two sets of studs are offset, and drywall is only nailed to one side of each stud. This allows for a continuous band of insulation to be woven between the studs within the wall. Since there is no structural path all the way through the wall, this approach provides a demonstrable positive effect in reducing noise transmission between different labs.

Not All Sound Travels the Same

Unfortunately, not all frequencies of sound are equally baffled by these methods. Insulation, for example, has a more positive effect reducing middle- and high-frequency sounds, but less of an effect on low-frequency sounds. As a result, additional barriers to sound should be incorporated into your laboratory design—like our MS Bench.

With its integrated vacuum pump enclosure, this dedicated lab furniture provides a 75 percent reduction in noise, with a guaranteed sound suppression of 15 dBA. By integrating our benches for mass spectrometers into your new lab design, you will create an additional sound barrier. Coupled with the insulation of modern staggered-stud walls, our dedicated lab furniture ensures that your new lab is as quiet as possible, with no sound carryover from mass spectrometry research taking place in adjacent rooms.

New lab design should always incorporate the results of proven research, whether it involves structural advancements, instrumental improvements, software or even furnishings. Dedicated lab furniture is worth the investment in a quieter lab; request a quote today to learn more.


Mass Spectrometry and LC Troubleshooting for Lab Safety

QuietBench_TroubleShooting So how can you tell if something is wrong with your mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography systems? We talk a lot about lab safety in general, but in this post we’re focusing on troubleshooting—because it’s critical to catch performance issues before they reach the level of a lab safety concern. Additionally, you don’t want to waste precious time and samples performing tests when your MS/LC systems aren’t working properly. For these reasons, it’s key to regularly evaluate your equipment and know what to do when something appears “off.”

Begin with the Lab Safety Basics

A good way to begin any inspection is with a visual overview of the entire system. You want to make sure everything looks normal. Does anything look out of place? Are there any leaks, or misaligned connections between the MS and the LC?

Of course, making these types of evaluations is a lot easier to do if you can get up close and personal with your machines, which is why we created our adjustable HPLC-UHPLC cart. It can easily be raised or lowered, allowing you to bring all parts of your system to eye level.

Break Down the Liquid Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry System

Next, you want to “break down the system” into its component parts—specifically mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography. For the LC, you want to watch the standard mixture separation, checking pressure traces and flow measurement, and running an injection check. You can isolate problems to one of a half-dozen areas:

  • Columns
  • Autosampler
  • Valves
  • Tubing
  • Injector
  • Pump

With mass spectrometry, the critical issue is infusion. You want to watch the voltages, detector signal and vacuum gauges. (Since we trust you are using our dedicated MS lab bench, with its vacuum pump enclosure that provides 75% noise reduction, you probably won’t notice any noise changes in the vacuum pumps.) Here, you can isolate the problem to:

  • Ionization or source
  • Calibration
  • Detector
  • Vacuum
  • Mass analyzer

Utilize CIV

CIV is short for “compare with installation values.” The engineers who install your instruments are some of your best lab safety allies because they know more about your equipment than anyone else. In addition to keeping track of installation values, make friends with your installers, ask them questions, and see if they will give you a copy of their own troubleshooting manual or other documents that aren’t normally given out to customers.

Specific things to pay attention to at the time of installation (and to record for future reference) include:

  • Vacuum settings (for all regions, when possible)
  • Voltage readbacks (copy screen shots of acceptable values)
  • Mixes as tuned for use (including sensitivity, resolution, stability, mass calibration, S/N)
  • Listing of best practices for auto-tune or calibration
  • Chromatographic performance (pressure range, peak width, RT stability)
  • Clear descriptions of error log messages
  • PM schedule recommendations for your specific use patterns
  • Recommendations for finding spare parts
  • Restrictions on solvent usage, pH values, etc.

Employ System Suitability Protocols

One helpful way to prevent lab safety problems and ascertain test parameters for mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography applications is to develop a system suitability protocol. This will help you monitor any changes that occur in your hardware or software. Analysis of a known sample provides data which can easily be compared with prior readings using a logbook that tracks prior performance, problems, and solutions.

Specific metrics for LC performance include retention time, peak shape, and chromatographic resolution; for mass spectrometers, you want to check sensitivity/response, mass accuracy, and precision. Always use the same method for LC and MS, and monitor metrics variability over a number of injections. Poor system suitability data should be kept to assist in troubleshooting future performance issues.

Enhance Your Lab’s Efficiency

We believe that optimal performance depends upon keeping instruments well calibrated and constantly monitored. We also believe that dedicated lab furniture will help you extend the life of your instruments and keep them performing at their best. For more information on our lab benches, contact us today.


Keeping Tabs on Trends in Laboratory Design

QuietBench DesignDesigning a new lab is an exciting adventure. Innovation is a constant in modern labs, so lab design must keep pace. Whether you’re constructing a new laboratory from scratch or transforming existing facilities, your design must take many things into account, from work styles and collaboration to building security, safety, and even the furniture used by different researchers.

Here are some of the latest trends in new laboratory design projects.

Getting Together

Long gone are the days when investigators labored away in solitude. Today, collaboration is the name of the game. This means you need to create “social buildings” that foster connection, with meeting spaces and break rooms where researchers can socialize.

While this once might have been a foreign concept—perhaps even anathema to managers who were afraid that researchers would not get as much work done—today we understand that successful scientists need to learn from what others are doing. Even a pair of window seats in an atrium can provide just the place for bouncing ideas off of each other.

Collaborating over research also means creating labs that allow entire teams to work together. For lab design professionals, interdisciplinary research units require attention to new kinds of concepts, including flow and circulation patterns of researchers. Offering group-based offices and write-up spaces also provides enhanced opportunities for the team to move forward.

Another way researchers are getting together is through “open” rather than “closed” laboratory layouts. This means creating a laboratory design that allows researchers to share dedicated lab furniture, equipment, and support staff, as well as space. When offices are moved over to one side, meetings can take place while others are working in the lab space itself. While not every type of research—or researcher—can handle such an open-concept workspace, most lab designs are no longer created around the constellation of a single principle investigator.

Preparing for Change

Of course, all this innovation and collaboration can result in a higher rate of change, which means laboratory design must be more flexible than ever. Whether the goal is easy expansion, being able to accommodate new equipment, or efficiently changing configurations in order to accomplish new tasks, labs are increasingly being designed for maximum adaptability.

As a result, they tend to be more generic, with flexible engineering systems (to address evolving safety issues), equipment zones that can be modified during the build-out phase (to keep pace with change in a typical three-year building process), and mobile dedicated lab furniture that can easily be transferred from one lab to another.

High-quality bench space is also critical in any lab design, because modern experiments are equipment-intensive. Safely stacking both equipment and supplies requires high ceilings and flexible shelving, while safely operating that equipment requires good lighting and attention to appropriate sprinkler system coverage.

Lab Design with the Computer in Mind

The pace of change in modern labs is due in large part to the exponential growth in computer usage. Thus any laboratory design must incorporate the use of technology. Building-wide wiring and cabling provide for collaboration, but must also retain sufficient flexibility to allow for configuration changes within individual labs. Virtual labs are also becoming more common. Whether you’re using telerobotics or virtual reality, modern lab design must be prepared to accommodate those evolving needs.

Within individual labs, specialized benches and workstations must maintain ergonomic standards even as they also support heavy and technologically sophisticated equipment. Dedicated lab benches such as ours include lockable hardware enclosures, monitor arms, and keyboard drawers to accommodate the technological needs of the modern lab.

Integrating Dedicated Lab Furniture into Your New Lab Design

Naturally, we’re keeping an eye on these lab design trends, because our goal is to create lab benches that will meet the need of any modern laboratory design now and in the future. And because IonBench lab benches reduce lab mass spectrometry noise, they also foster better communication and collaboration within the lab. To find out how our dedicated lab furniture can meet your lab’s needs, contact us today.

More Mass Spectrometry Lab Safety Concerns

QuietBench_Warning1When it comes to lab safety, we often talk about noise and its elimination, but there are other potential risks from using mass spectrometers and liquid and gas chromatographs in a lab. Everything from carrier gas volatility to magnetic fields and vibration can create a lab safety concern.

While some of these tips may be almost second nature, it’s always good to review them from time to time to make sure they aren’t being overlooked or shortened, leaving the potential for a developing, dangerous, lab safety situation.

Preventive Lab Safety Measures

There are several safety precautions you can take to prevent any volatility in your mass spectrometry lab. These include:

  • Turn off the gas source any time you turn off, vent your MS or if there is a power failure.
  • Check frequently for leaks, using certified leak-checking equipment.
  • Remove ignition sources from your lab whenever possible (including open flames, sources of static electricity, or devices that spark).
  • Never allow gases to vent from high pressure directly into the lab itself.

Additional Mass Spectrometry Safety Tips

In addition to volatility, there are other lab safety concerns to be aware of with mass specs and other spectrometers. Make sure you:

  • Avoid touching cold hoses during cryogenic refilling to avoid nasty burns.
  • if your MS came with a safety kit, make sure to install it before operating.
  • Vacate the lab immediately if gases vent loudly and cause a dense, white fog. If this occurs during a magnet quench on an NMR, or sudden boil-off of cryogens, it can cause asphyxiation.
  • Never look at lasers.
  • Whenever possible, do not operate the MS in service mode.
  • If there’s a power failure, turn off all equipment and gas sources. Let the MS cool down for at least an hour and open the MS vacuum manifold to atmosphere (remove side plates or manifold windows) before restarting.

Lab safety is probably the most important element of your job, which is why we spend so much time on it. To learn more about protecting yourself from lab accidents, and how our dedicated lab furniture can help, contact us today.


Innovative Uses for Mass Spectrometry: Solving Crimes with Fingerprints

mass-spectrometery-fingerprintsIf it isn’t obvious, it should be. We get jazzed by the innovation and science of mass spectrometry. It’s not just because we make dedicated lab furniture. It’s because we think these machines that work on our dedicated lab furniture are amazing, especially how there are always new uses for the information they provide. We recently read about one interesting development and thought we’d share it with you.

Crime Scenes and Fingerprints

Fingerprints have been lifted from crime scenes for over one hundred years. Searching for and capturing those fingerprints has become a standard part of most crime scene investigations—but it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

You see, if the fingerprint is smudged or partial, it’s often not possible to get enough data for a match that will stand up in court. Also, if the person’s fingerprints aren’t in a database somewhere, because of a prior criminal record or other activities (everything from citizenship and employment applications to military service), there’s no way to make a match with a record that doesn’t exist.

Lifting More than Whorls

Those limitations are changing, however. Traditional fingerprint identification relies on matching the patterns of ridges and whorls on each fingertip, which are unique to each person. But when investigators “lift” a fingerprint (transferring that print to an acetate sheet), they pick up a lot more than patterns. They pick up all sorts of microscopic molecules that become part of the evidence trail and can give investigators additional clues about a potential suspect.

Using Mass Spectrometry to Gather Clues

This is where the mass spectrometry comes in. Using its science, lab technicians at Sheffield Hallam University in England are analyzing materials, no matter how small, that are hidden on or within the fingerprint’s ridges and whorls.

So what are they finding? For starters, analyzing proteins can determine the sex of a suspect. Those proteins can also reveal whether the suspect is using or dealing illegal substances or ingesting particular prescription drugs. Other materials that lodge between fingerprint ridges can point investigators toward what was formerly only obtainable through an autopsy: What the suspect ate for dinner.

In fact, researchers can learn a lot about the lifestyle and recent activities of suspects—for example, cleanliness habits and what compounds they used to wash their hands—and all of these clues can build a more complete profile of a suspect, aiding investigators in their search.

Is it Enough to Crack the Case?

Of course, this new information is only helpful if it will hold up in court, and Sheffield Hallam investigators say that, like with other mass spectrometry evidence, this new application for fingerprint evidence results in data that is accurate enough for a criminal investigation. They say that reliability is the key, and everyone who works in mass spectrometry knows that it is a reliable, proven technology.

We are excited that bright minds continue to come up with new uses for the MS and related technologies. Naturally, we’re thrilled that this means that we can “support” this promising investigative work with our dedicated lab furniture. But we’re also pleased to continue our commitment to follow advances in mass spectrometry science. In fact, if you hear about—or are engaged in—other innovative uses for mass spectrometry, please let us know!

Answers to Dedicated Lab Furniture FAQs

dedicated-lab-furniture-faqWhy keep important information to yourself when you can share it with the world? We get great questions through our customer support line, and we thought, why not answer some of them for everyone to see. So here are our responses to four common questions we’ve gotten about our dedicated lab furniture. We hope they will help you understand how much flexibility and customization is available when you purchase one of our mass spectrometry or LC dedicated benches for your research lab.

Q: What materials do you use in your IonBench work surfaces?

A: Each type of IonBench has its own specific work surface material. For mass spectrometry, we use Chem Res, a chemical- and water-resistant laminate. This material is used in many types of dedicated lab furniture. For our IonBench LC, we use a surface material manufactured by Trespa, a company that has been making strong surfaces for over 50 years.

Q: What is the typical lead time for purchasing IonBench MS dedicated lab furniture?

A: We typically deliver our furniture three to four weeks after an order is placed. However, we can provide express delivery so that you receive the lab bench within seven to ten days after ordering. Of course, sometimes crises and accidents occur, and you need a new piece of dedicated lab furniture even sooner in order to get your lab up and running again. In those special situations, we can schedule deliveries to arrive in two to three days.

We can also work with you if you have the opportunity to plan ahead. If you’re planning a new lab build or renovation, you can place your order for three or even six months from now, and we will schedule the delivery when you’re ready to receive it. That way you don’t have to worry about storing your new IonBench furniture while you wait for the lab build or renovation to be complete.

Q: Can you reconfigure a mass spectrometry bench with two pump enclosures instead of drawers?

A: Actually, we don’t suggest using two separate enclosures. Instead, we have designed enclosures that can accommodate two vacuum pumps. If you have Edwards pumps, our NE58 enclosure can hold two of their E2M28 or E2M30 vacuum pumps or their scroll pumps. If you’re using Leybold Sogevac SV65 pumps or Varian/Agilent MS40+ pumps, we can fit two of those in our NE78 enclosure. When it comes to dedicated lab furniture, we are innovating along with the MS manufacturers. In fact, we recently introduced an enclosure that can even soundproof the Ebara vacuum pump that comes with the new Waters Vion mass spec.

Q: If I want to customize my new dedicated lab furniture, how does that impact delivery time?

A: Of course, that really depends on what level of customization you’re after. We regularly stock a number of different work surface sizes, so changing out the work surface can be done within the standard 3 to 4 week delivery timeframe. However, if you’re looking for something more substantive, such as space for an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or dropping the bench height six inches, it can take a little longer.

But almost anything is possible, and we’re happy to do whatever we can to make your new dedicated lab furniture the safest and most efficient workspace you’ve ever used. To start your own custom Q&A session with us, give us a call today at 888-327-4295.

Miniaturization: The Future of the Mass Spectrometer?

mass-spectrometer-miniaturizationIf you work in mass spectrometry, chances are your lab is a popular place. Anyone and everyone is sending material back to your lab for analysis—and of course, they all want the results yesterday.

This is why researchers around the world are working on ways to shrink the various mass spectrometer components, with the hope that someday investigators can actually take an MS with them into the field.

Why Miniaturization?

That portability is a key factor in the drive to make the mass spectrometer smaller. Evidence can be collected quickly, but then it must be sent back to a lab, where it sits in line with all the other samples waiting to be tested. However, if investigators can bring an MS to each site and run the analysis right there, then ideally there should be no laboratory backlogs.

Another advantage to “downsizing” the mass spectrometer is that a tiny, low-voltage gas ionizer would be able to work at much higher vacuum pressures. This minimizes the need for a vacuum pump. Meanwhile, vacuum pumps themselves could be reduced to the size of a chip, which decreases both energy consumption and the cost of production.

Lowering the cost of the various mass spec parts is another advantage of miniaturization. Batching microfabricated components can drop the cost of a mass spectrometer from thousands to hundreds of dollars, making it economically viable as a handheld tool in the arsenal of every investigator and technician.

This could also lead to the introduction of mass specs for uses that have been cost-prohibitive in the past, such as monitoring air quality in commercial buildings on a wide-scale basis.

What’s Happening to Make This Dream a Reality?

Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about this evolution in mass spectrometry if there hadn’t already been work done in this area.

Triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometers are the workhorses of quantitative analysis. Recently, the first mini triple-quadrupole mass analyzer has been successfully developed, although more work is required before it will be available commercially. This micro analyzer was developed by a team at Microsaic Systems in England.

One big difference between this and other prototypes is that earlier versions have all used ion traps. Another is that the analyzer itself is about a quarter of the size of conventional mass specs. Researchers have proven its capabilities with both single-stage and tandem mass spectrometry. It can detect pesticides at 10 ppb, well within acceptable parameters.

Waiting on the Future of the Mass Spectrometer

Not surprisingly, creating the analyzer is just the first step in a much larger process. The rest of the system must be created around the analyzer, including components for inflow, outflow, and vacuum capacity. This means that, at least for the next few years, full-sized mass specs will still be the best option available for spectrum analysis.

It also means that those larger, noisier vacuum pumps will continue to make conversation difficult in your lab unless you use dedicated lab furniture that includes a noise-reduction enclosure. Moreover, those vacuum pumps will continue creating vibrations that could reduce the performance and useful life of the components in your mass spec, unless you invest in dedicated lab furniture that includes dampening springs.

Investing in the IonBench is one way to ensure your current mass specs will last until the micro-MS evolution is complete. Contact us today to learn more.