Innovation Thrives at the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2013

When J.J. Thomson, the father of mass spectrometry, published his seminal book, Rays of Positive Electricity, 100 years ago, he could not have imagined the vast array of applications that would be tackled with these positive rays. At the recent American Society for Mass Spectrometry’s 61st ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics, held June 9–16, 2013, in Minneapolis, MN, over 6000 practitioners and purveyors gathered to showcase the latest developments and innovations in the field. The event began with a retrospective on the giants of mass spectrometry—from Aston and Thomson to Nier, Biemann, Dole, and McLafferty—who laid the foundation for the technique that has well over 200,000 instruments in use around the globe. There were 3400 scientific presentations on new instrumentation and applications in forensics, pharmaceuticals, toxicology, environmental, ’omics, energy, food, and clinical chemistry. In addition, a number of novel and exciting products were highlighted, offering improvements in sensitivity, speed, selectivity, and usability, and these are briefly reviewed here.

AB Sciex ( SelexION™ ion mobility technology has been added to the TripleTOF® 5600+ to improve identification and quantitation, leveraging the additional separation and background reduction of the IMS stage. AB Sciex also introduced several software updates—a new version of Analyst Software 1.6.2, which operates the triple quads as well as QTRAP instruments, improved Protein Pilot for faster ID and quant on large data sets, and improvements to SWATH acquisition. The company also highlighted its recently achieved CE in vitro diagnostic device (CE-IVDD) mark for the API 3200MD™ and 3200MD QTRAP® LC/MS/MS systems, allowing their use in clinical diagnostics in Europe.

Advion ( Advion launched the Chip-Mate™ nano-LC source, which uses ESI Chip® technology for coupling with the nano-LC column. It fits on multiple vendors’ mass spectrometers, and each ESI Chip has 25 nozzles. The column is rapidly switched to the next nozzle if the automated spray sensing detects a problem, causing no loss of data or failed nano-LC runs.

Antec ( The new SynthesisCell™ bulk cell prepares milligram quantities of difficult-to-synthesize electrolysis products. It has a large surface area carbon electrode and is useful for small-scale synthesis studies of up to 75 mL of metabolites, intermediates, and redox products.

Figure 1 – StreamSelect LC/MS from Agilent.

Agilent ( Agilent demonstrated results on a new instrument combining ion mobility technology with the high-resolution iFunnel Q-TOF LC/MS system. The ion mobility segment uses a uniform field, as opposed to the RF fields used by most others, and it is placed before the quadrupoles. The new RapidFire 365 high-throughput MS system, which uses solid-phase extraction and MS detection, can run unattended for up to 60 hr. Additionally, Agilent introduced MassHunter workstation enhancements for food and forensics work, the StreamSelect LC/MS for using two LCs with a single 6400 triple quadrupole (see Figure 1), and doubled scan speeds on the single-quad LC/MS.

Figure 2 – Bruker Impact HD.

Bruker ( Three new systems were introduced at the meeting. The SolariX™ XR FTMS provides “eXtreme resolution” of >10 million for reading isotopic fine structure of peaks, thus directly measuring isotopic compositions. In addition, the new ParaCell™ enables 1-sec acquisitions at a resolution of over 650,000 at m/z 400. The Impact™ HD with the CaptiveSpray™ NanoBooster™ source is a benchtop QqTOF that utilizes 50-Gbit/sec sampling and dopant-enriched ionization to boost sensitivity and dynamic range, resulting in over 8000 proteins identified in a 2-D LC work flow (see Figure 2). The new EVOQ™ Elite ER LC/MS/MS triple quadrupole has an extended mass range of 2000 m/z for peptide quantitation as well as other higher m/z applications.

CovalX ( CovalX is now offering a new service for Conformational Epitope Mapping using the Kd6 Interaction Kit with resolutions of 1–3 amino acids. This service complements the company’s Linear Epitope Mapping service.

IonSense ( The new DART® GSX system is now integrated with Cerno Bioscience’s MassWorks™ software, enabling rapid ambient ionization with accurate mass assignments.

New Objective ( New versions of the PicoCHIP® Nanospray Columns were highlighted in a rainbow of colors, with even simpler operation of the integrated package containing transfer line, column, emitter, and voltage connections.

Optimize Technologies ( The new EXP® Ti-lok fitting has a two-stage locking mechanism that is ideal for PEEK-clad or sleeved fused silica, and can be hand-tightened to 15,000+ psi.

PerkinElmer ( The AxION iQT GC/MS/MS system is a QqTOF type instrument with a novel geometry in a small package, having a footprint of 70 × 40 cm. It utilizes curved Q0 and Q2 coupled to an orthogonal TOF with a two-stage reflectron. The system is compatible with a wide array of GCs and has electron ionization (EI), chemical ionization (CI), and “cold EI” sources; the cold EI uses low-energy EI to produce more abundant molecular ions. It is claimed to have a 108 linear dynamic range within a single run.

Photonis ( Photonis showed its new Daly detector for operation at lower vacuums (10’s mtorr), optimized for applications in field-portable devices. The detector is sealed to minimize contamination and extend the lifetime.

Figure 3 – Shimadzu MALDI-7090 MALDI TOF-TOF mass spectrometer.

Sage Science ( The Sage ELF™ is a new product for automated protein fractionation using preparative electrophoresis. In 1–2 hr, it can separate up to 350 μg of protein and collect 12 fractions.

Shimadzu ( The new MALDI-7090™ MALDI TOFTOF mass spectrometer (see Figure 3) targets proteomics and tissue imaging research. It utilizes ASDF™ (Axial Spatial Distribution Focusing) to provide high-resolution MALDI MS/MS for accurate compound characterization as well as 20-keV high-energy collision induced dissociation (CID) for enhanced structural elucidation. Shimadzu also introduced the Perfinity NoRA (No Reduction/Alkylation) trypsin columns for use with the Perfinity Workstation and Perfinity Integrated Digestion Platform (iDP).

Figure 4 – Orbitrap Fusion Tribrid LC/MS from Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Thermo Fisher Scientific ( The new Orbitrap Fusion Tribrid LC/MS system (see Figure 4) combines three mass analyzers—quadrupole, Orbitrap, and linear ion trap. It enables simultaneous precursor isolation, fragmentation, and data acquisition in both the Orbitrap and linear ion trap, leading to identification of a larger number of low-abundance proteins. It has a dual-pressure linear ion trap providing MSn CID, HCD (higher-energy C-trap dissociation), and ETD (electron transfer dissociation) fragmentations and scan rates of up to 20 Hz. It can provide a resolution of 450,000 at m/z 200 with a 1-Hz scan rate. Additionally, Thermo launched two new triple quads—the TSQ Quantiva instrument with attogram (10–18 gram) sensitivity for quantitation in proteomics, toxicology, food, and environmental testing, and the TSQ Endura MS, designed for high robustness and uptime.

Waters ( Waters launched the next version of the ion mobility QTOFs with the SYNAPT® G2-Si mass spectrometer, which takes advantage of the collision cross-section (CCS) to increase the specificity of the measurements. The instrument is the first to leverage CCS alongside retention time and m/z as a robust, reliable identification parameter in library-based screening and compound characterization. Waters also highlighted the new TransOmics™ 2.0 informatics packages for proteomics and metabolomics/lipidomics, specifically designed to process and visualize data with collision cross-sections from the new SYNAPT.


Innovation continues at a rapid pace in the field of mass spectrometry, driven by the need for increased dynamic range and more rapid analysis, all with less labor. Also, the diffusion of the technology into areas such as clinical chemistry, forensics, and food safety is further fueling the need for improved solutions. The 62nd ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics will be held in Baltimore, MD, June 15–19, 2014. See www. for more information.

Paul O. Danis, Ph.D., is the Founder and Principal of Eastwoods Consulting, a life science advisory firm helping companies translate their innovations into profits. He can be reached at 508-869-2303 or