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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.


Mass Spec Analytical Receives Additional Innovate UK Funding for Plasma Ion Source Research

UK Government Covid-19 Continuity Grant will sustain development momentum during pandemic

Mass Spec Analytical, the Bristol-based Mass Spectrometry Ion-Source Developer announced today that it has received additional funding from Innovate UK to pursue its Plasma Ion Source Development work. Mass Spec Analytical (MSA) received the award through the Analysis for Innovators Competition where the aim is to help companies overcome intractable product, manufacturing or process performance problems through advanced measurement and analytical technologies. MSA was awarded a further grant under the COVID-19: Continuity Grants initiative to provide additional support  to the project, ensuring that the challenges presented by the current pandemic and lock down of key facilities would have as little impact as possible.

MSA has developed a new type of low-temperature, direct analysis, ion source for mass spectrometry that relies on a Dielectric Barrier Discharge plasma to ionise the target substances directly from the surface being analysed. The initial work has demonstrated successful results for analytical research, security, and forensic market applications. MSA is an innovator in the design and manufacture of thermal ion sources the DBD plasma source is a next-generation development on the work already achieved.

“The Analysis for Innovators (A4I) programme has provided our business with access to experts and equipment in laboratories recognised worldwide for analysis and measurement” said Lance Hiley, MSA Managing Director.  “That is invaluable to a company like ours developing innovative products. Our project had just got underway when the Covid-19 Lockdown was announced, and our plans delayed. The Covid-19 Continuity Grant has provided us with additional funds to develop workarounds with our Innovate measurement partner and implement alternative approaches to the workplan. The structure of the grant also ensures that the additional funds will pay for a legacy in our business in the years to come.”

Analysing trace substances using mass spectrometry is the most reliable, future-proof method for a wide range of analytical chemistry research and development applications as well as finding direct application in the field of forensic investigations and public safety. The detection of drugs of abuse and explosives has been successfully demonstrated with earlier prototypes of this plasma ion source.


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