Advances in Mass Spectrometry at Pittcon® 2013

This has been a busy year for mass spectrometry companies and with the Triennial International Conference on Mass Spectrometry occurring last fall. This year at Pittcon®, several new high-end mass spectrometers were presented by Bruker and AB SCIEX, with both systems incorporating advanced ion optics and novel detectors to achieve higher sensitivity. The emergence of new products from small companies that have entered the field in the past five years gives the mass spectrometry scientist new devices to complete novel experiments. These include the Excellims HPIMS™, an electrospray ion mobility spectrometer that enables chiral separation and detection of molecules after LC separation, and a combined thin layer chromatography (TLC)/compact mass spectrometer presented by CAMAG and Advion. Also noteworthy was the resurrection of field desorption and field ionization, both capable of producing intact molecular ions from molecules exiting a GC×GC separation, as enabled with the new JEOL AccuTOF™ GCv 4G TOF-MS. Details of these novel systems and others on the exhibit floor are presented below in alphabetical order by company name.

1st Detect ( The OEM-1000™ is a fully functional ion trap mass spectrometer that can be integrated into customer-specific packaging and equipment.

AB SCIEX ( The QTRAP® 6500 system contains 50% larger source heating to provide for more efficient vaporization of the LC eluent, thus increasing the quantity of ions produced, while patented IonDrive technology enhances transmission of those ions to a new detector. The literature claims 10× greater sensitivity over other high-performance triple-quad units, 2× faster multiple reaction monitoring (MRM), and detector range of up to 6 orders of magnitude. The company also announced its first in vitro diagnostic device, the 3200MD series LC/MS/MS, as well as a collaboration with Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology to accelerate the development of new analytical strategies for proteomics by using SWATH™ Acquisition, a data-independent MS work flow.

Advion ( and CAMAG ( CAMAG’s TLC-MS Interface was integrated with Advion’s expression CMS (Compact Mass Spectrometer), introduced at Pittcon 2012, to provide “perfect integration of best-in-class chemist assay tools.” A live webinar was hosted by the Royal Chemistry Society and featured Prof. Gerda Morlock, a leading HPTLC expert from the University of Giessen, Germany.

ALMSCO ( TargetView™ software detects and identifies compounds in complex GC/MS data collected with ALMSCO’s BenchTOFdx™ TOFMS, which was introduced last year.

Bruker Daltonics ( The company introduced three MS systems. The COMPACT™ Qq-TOF high-resolution benchtop accurate mass LC/MS/MS incorporates a patented dual-ion funnel, high-transmission collision-induced dissociation (CID) cell, and a new 10-bit ADC digitizer. The new detector permits both improved dynamic range and “true isotopic patterns” essential for de novo chemical ID enabled by the Smartformula3D™ software program. The second instrument, the EVOQ-LC-MS/MS triple quadrupole, features several innovative technologies, including a vacuum-assisted (VIP) heated electrospray ionization (ESI) probe, an active exhaust duct, and a new atmospheric pressure interface utilizing an orifice instead of a heated capillary. The combination of these components is purported to reduce thermal degradation of sample molecules and thus improve overall instrument sensitivity.

In the elemental analysis product arena, Bruker also introduced the aurora™ Elite, an ultrasensitive ICP-MS featuring “unprecedented 1.5 GHz ppm sensitivity for precise and accurate quantification at single-digit ppt levels.”

Excellims ( The IA3100 HPIMS™ high-performance ion mobility spectrometer is designed for direct analysis of samples separated by HPLC. The system is available as either a standalone GA2100 detector or integrated with a Shimadzu HPLC. The IA3100 delivers high-resolution IMS separation with >70 resolving power, which makes it ideal for separation and detection of stereoisomers.

Extrel ( The VeraSpec™ HRQ high-resolution quadrupole MS gas analysis system utilizes a 19-mm tri-filter quadrupole with a precision-machined rod set featuring RF-only, pre-, and post-filter stages; stabilizing rods; and high-power RF generators, which together permit sub-amu mass separation, as documented via detection of easily resolved ions from helium and deuterium.

Frontier Laboratories ( The Tandem Microreactor (RX-3050TR) is a multimode pyrolysis unit that interfaces to the inlet of a GC/MS and uses a PC-based control program for operation. The GC/MS operates in real-time monitoring mode to enable different experiments conducted on the same equipment. Solids placed in the upper microreactor generate gases that are subsequently transferred to a catalyst bed in the lower reactor region, with both gas composition and temperature conditions controlled independently. The device also appeared in the Quantum Analytics ( booth enabled with the new 5977 Mass Selective Detector from Agilent Technologies (, which the company sells and supports.

IonSense ( The DART®-GSX™ System allows the use of ambient ionization sources with the 5973 and 5975 GC/MS instruments from Agilent. The addition of DART (Direct Analysis in Real Time) to these instruments permits the generation of intact molecular ions for high-throughput screening of samples. The product is aimed at providing forensic and food laboratories with a means to access DART technology using their GC/MS hardware without having to purchase an LC/MS system, thus making the ambient technology more accessible to their labs. A microelectrospray source is included for instrument calibration.

JEOL ( The AccuTOF™ GCv 4G TOFMS acquires up to 50 averaged spectra per second with 8000 FWHM and high mass accuracy. The 4G is compatible with a ZOEX ( GC×GC system. The use of an optional electrospray ionization/field ionization/field desorption (EI/FI/FD) source that does not require a reagent gas for molecular ion determination uniquely “allows GC/FI in a convenient and routine package.”

Kanomax USA ( The infiTOF small benchtop high-resolution mass spectrometer, with an interface enabling GC/MS operation, was displayed. The infiTOF from MSI Tokyo (prior to its acquisition by Kanomax) was the Pittcon 2010 Editors’ Choice Bronze Award winner.

LECO Corp. ( The company introduced a new chemical ionization source (HR-CI) for its Pegasus GC-HRT high-resolution time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer, which allows scientists conducting petroleum and metabolomics research to “take molecular ion confirmation to a new level when combined with the power and capability of the GC-HRT.”

MassTech ( The DS-APCCI is a direct sampling atmospheric pressure sampling ion source interfaced to the MT Explorer 50, MassTech’s compact tandem MS. The trap MS also supports AP/MALDI (atmospheric pressure/matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization) and DART ionization sources.

Microsaic ( The Microsaic 4000 MiD compact electrospray LC/MS incorporates the vacuum pump into the instrument, which is sized to fit a standard laboratory hood. The system does not require an external pump and can be deployed in places where MS has been prohibitive. Core technologies include chip-scale versions of MS components, such as the plug-and-play ESI source, which can be interchanged rapidly by the user. The small mass analyzer section requires less pumping and thus results in consumption of less energy for operation.

Photonis ( The DART® Ion Mobility Spectrometer utilizes a two-stage IMS configuration using patented Resistive Glass technology, and a new photo-etched ion gate that provides the rapid pulsing necessary to produce spectra with high resolving power (64–150). The sample inlet utilizes IonSense’s patented DART technology to ionize solid, liquid, and gas phase analytes instead of a plasma discharge or radioactive source.

Prosolia ( The company expanded its desorption electrospray ionization product line with introduction of the flowprobe™ device for real-time continuous automated in situ microextraction of surfaces, permitting generation of electrospray mass spectra. A continuous flow of solvent results in high extraction efficiency of drugs and other chemicals from samples such as cells and tissue.

Shimadzu ( The new triple quadrupole LCMS-8040 uses UF-Lens™ ion optics technology, which integrates two multipole RF ion guides, and UF-sweeper™ II collision cell technology for high-speed ion transport to maintain sensitivity and suppress crosstalk. The 8040 achieves MRM transition speeds up to 555 MRMs per second and rapid polarity switching in 15 msec along with a high-speed scanning rate of 15,000 u/sec.

Thermo Fisher Scientific ( The TSQ 8000 GC-MS/MS Pesticide Analyzer addresses the needs of high-throughput labs for trace detection in complex matrices. The triple quadrupole-based system includes a step-by-step walkthrough guide for building customized methods.

Torion Technologies ( The company introduced CLAIRION™, a line of air sampling products, and CHROMION®, a new software package for the field-portable TRIDION™-9 GC/MS. The software enables proprietary peak deconvolution and customized peak identification algorithms.

Waters Corp. ( The company displayed several products introduced to the market this past year, including the Xevo® G2-S QTOF and benchtop Xevo G2-S TOF with proprietary StepWave™ off-axis ion source technology, providing up to 20× improvement in sensitivity.


This year’s Pittcon attendees enjoyed a mix of advances in technical innovation that could not be seen—such as upgrades to ion optics and improved sensitivity in ion detection and those that were visible such as smaller companies offering novel combinations of ionization systems with existing mass spectrometers. The MS field appears to be quite healthy moving forward, with the synergy between large and small product vendors providing scientists with new avenues to explore. The large number of MS-oriented symposia and contributed papers also served to provide background information for those attendees to use in reaching their research and development objectives with these technologies.

Brian D. Musselman, Ph.D., is an expert in mass spectrometry and CEO of IonSense, 999 Broadway, Ste. 404, Saugus, MA 01906, U.S.A.; tel.: 781- 484-1043; e-mail: