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Not only are our customers in the news - they make the news! We contribute to our customer's success with the very best science and technology that never stops advancing.  

Here we capture the more significant and interesting news stories we've been associated with along with our own.


Waters Instruments and MSA Present a Targeted Method for Explosives Detection on a Prototype Thermal Desorption-QDa Instrument

In collaboration with Mass Spec Analytical (MSA) and initially with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl), and Surrey University, Waters investigated the possibility of using the Waters QDa single quadrupole mass spectrometer as a base for a specific explosives residue detector in conjunction with an MSA Thermal Ion Source.

Tests for explosive residues at transport locations (airports etc) are predominantly conducted using ion mobility instrumentation which can be limited for some compounds of interest. In collaboration with Mass Spec Analytical (MSA) and initially with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl), and Surrey University, Waters investigated the possibility of using the Waters QDa single quadrupole mass spectrometer as a base for a specific explosives residue detector in conjunction with an MSA Thermal Ion Source.

Presented as a poster at the 2019 British Mass Spectrometry Society annual meeting, Waters discussed the use of a prototype thermal desorption APCI source attached to a small single quadrupole mass spectrometer to investigate the response of a range of explosives. The poster reviews the challenges including:

  • An appropriate volatilisation process for the current sampling method
  • Determining a generic ionisation process
  • Sensitivity for all analytes at 1-10ng
  • Increased specificity through an appropriate method
  • Real-time acquisition/identification software

All the Ion Mobility instruments that currently dominate this market use a swabbing technique to sample luggage surfaces (or people’s hands) prior to the swab being heated in a thermal desorption unit to volatilise all compounds on the swab. The Waters-MSA prototype was tested against a range of target explosives including TNT, DNT, RDX, PETN, HMX, TATP and HMTD.

There are a significant number of potential variables that can affect the spectral information and sensitivity of the instrument. The data acquired on a prototype/proof of principle system has shown the possibility of a small mass spectrometer capable of the detection of explosive residues in the 1-10ng level. A new version 2 prototype is currently being produced (by Mass Spec Analytical) to increase sensitivity and reduce size. A single TD temperature also needs determining, as currently different analytes volatilised optimally at different temperatures.

The poster can be downloaded here


Mass Spec® and SCIEX® Share Fast Forensic Solutions

‘Ultra-Fast,’ ‘Rapid’ and ‘High-Throughput’ are some of the descriptions used to describe the latest forensic methods from the two companies.

In the world of Forensics, speed is not often a focal point. However, in many instances, forensic scientists are looking for rapid identification of substances requiring high sensitivity and specificity and quantitation falls to the background as a priority.

It is these sort of forensic applications that are highlighted in the latest tech notes from a recent collaboration between Mass Spec® and SCIEX® where the two companies looked at how the Mass Spec Analytical Thermal Extraction Ion Source (MSA TEIS) mated to a SCIEX 4500 triple quad QTRAP® System can be used for Direct Sample Analysis.

The work resulted in descriptions not normally seen in tech notes aimed at the forensic community:

Ultra-Fast Identification of Drugs of Abuse describes a rapid and robust analytical method to detect a variety of analytes associated with illicit drugs.  The method exhibits the sensitivity and selectivity expected from a MS-based screening technology providing both MS and MS/MS information; an ideal tool for high confidence identification.

Switching to a security-threat focus, High-Throughput Screening of Explosive Residues looks at how confident identification explosive residues cannot be achieved solely by measuring collisional cross section. In this technical note, an MSA TEIS, coupled with a SCIEX QTRAP 4500 System is shown to accurately identify explosive residues without the need for chromatography. The combined system is shown to produce rapid and confident compound identification suitable for rapid security screening.

A separate tech note, Direct Sample Analysis Using a Thermal Extraction Ionization Source (TEIS) Combined with Mass Spectrometry, discusses the technical details of how the MSA TEIS works with the SCIEX 4500 Instrument.

These three new tech notes compliment the previous note that examined how the MSA TEIS can be used for quantitation.


Rapid Analysis of Acrylamide in Foodstuffs without Chromatography Revealed at BMSS Meeting

Mass Spec Analytical demonstrates Acrylamide Quantification in Foodstuffs in Minutes Using a Thermal Extraction Ionisation Source without Chromatography

Ambient Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (AI-MS) is an exciting field of mass spectrometry where direct analysis of samples in real time without sample preparation or long run times is possible. However, without chromatographic separation to minimise matrix effects, there is concern that quantitation is not reproducible using AI-MS alone.

At the recent British Mass Spectrometry Society Ambient Ionisation Special Interest Group meeting at Huddersfield university, Mass Spec Analytical presented a Thermal Extraction Ionisation Source (TEIS) coupled to a SCIEX triple quadrupole instrument for the identification and quantitation of acrylamide within seconds using a direct injection. Acrylamide is an organic compound and a naturally occurring by-product in carbohydrate-rich foods that are prepared at low moisture levels and at temperatures above 120C. The European Food Safety Authority has confirmed acrylamide to be a probable carcinogen, so it is important to be able to quantify levels are below commission regulation limits (EU) 2017/2158.

Our rapid quantitation method for acrylamide in foods was demonstrated using the Mass Spec TEIS with a high degree of reproducibility suggesting quantitation is possible using AI-MS. The sample preparation is simple and amenable to automation, suggesting that the TEIS method can significantly increase sample throughput without a concomitant loss in quantitation accuracy.

A poster was presented that provides more detail. An application note will be published shortly. Contact MSA for more information.

Contact Mass Spec Analytical on  +44(0)117 428 5787