The recent Pittcon conference proves once again to be an excellent venue for introducing new spectroscopy technologies.

PerkinElmer’s PinAAcle 500 system.At the 66th annual Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) this past March 7 – 13 in New Orleans, the spectroscopy- based new product introductions covered, quite literally, the entire analytical spectrum from the far-infrared to x-rays, along with Raman and mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) products.

Compared to previous years where new MS products dominated, many of this year’s Pittcon introductions involved Raman, NMR and x-ray-based devices. One of Thermo Scientific’s announcements at Pittcon, for example, included their Gemini analyzer, the first device to integrate FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) and Raman spectroscopy into a single ruggedized, handheld instrument for faster, more reliable responses. The Gemini is designed for use by military personnel, bomb technicians, hazmat teams and first responders tasked with identifying unknown chemicals and explosives in the field. The device’s lightweight and ease-of-use make it ideal for chemical response personnel, explosive ordnance disposal technicians and other responders burdened with heavy equipment for lengthy missions.

“Ten years ago, this level of analytical capability was only possible inside a research laboratory, with instruments that were far from portable,” says Maura Fitzpatrick, senior director of Thermo’s portable analytical instruments. “We’re now redefining portable instrumentation with a two-in-one analyzer small enough for field use, giving military and first responders a tremendous tactical advantage—helping them minimize time on target and make live-saving decisions.”

The Gemini builds on Thermo’s existing TruDefender FTIR and FirstDefender Raman handheld instruments. By combining FTIR and Raman, the Gemini takes advantage of the strengths of each technology to identify a broader range of samples than either technique alone. It also includes a library, enabling users to identify known solids and liquids from explosives and chemical warfare agents to industrial chemicals and precursors.

Bruker Corp. also introduced a handheld Raman spectrometer at Pittcon. Their BRAVO (Bruker RAman Verification Optics) complements the company’s existing stand-alone FT-MultiRAM spectrometer and Raman microscope product range and features an innovative fluorescence mitigation, intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) and a guided workflow. The BRAVO is the only handheld Raman spectrometer that’s certified as a class 1M laser product—meaning that its large-diameter laser beams are safe for all conditions of use, except when passed through magnifying optics. The fluorescence mitigation enables measurement of a wider range of raw materials compared to previously available systems.

“We believe that the BRAVO’s performance and innovative features provides additional value for routine applications, as well as quality control, in both labs and industrial environments,” says Urban Faeh, President of Bruker Optics.

Shimadzu Scientific Instruments’ high-performance RF-6000 spectrofluorophotometer.Bruker also introduced a new XRD (x-ray diffraction) system (D8 Endeavor) and a new benchtop EDXRF (energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence) spectrometer (S2 Puma) at Pittcon 2015. The Endeavor is a completely redesigned successor product to the company’s previous XRD system. The new system combines increased accuracy with faster analysis speeds, and is equipped with the latest detector technology (Lynxeye XE) that addresses process and quality control requirements in the aluminum, cement, geology, mining, pharmaceutical and pigment industries for enabling short measurement times with enhanced sensitivities. The instrument can be operated in a stand-alone mode or automation-integrated mode or by using a touchscreen interface by non-expert operators. Sample handling is highly flexible as various sample types can be loaded automatically via a conveyor belt or robot, one-by-one or with a multiposition tray.

The Puma’s low detection limits and similarly short measurement times are archived using a high power x-ray tube. Its best-in-class detection of light elements is realized by the combination of optimized excitation, detection and an economical vacuum mode. The system’s high sample throughput of loose or pressed powders, solids or liquids is supported by either the company’s EasyLoad sample tray or an automated load port. Irregular or large samples are accommodated by a large sample chamber version. The instrument is designed for use in minerals and mining, cement production, metals processing, and petro-chemical production applications.

Bruker added to its broad range of NMR offerings at Pittcon 2015 with new automation systems and new screening solutions specifically designed for its well-established FoodScreener product line. New this year is a customized NMR solution for the analysis of honey. While most of Bruker’s FoodScreening NMR utilize the same basic NMR instrumentation hardware, there are minor injection modifications and software analysis enhancements. The honey solution delivers targeted and non-targeted analyses to simultaneously identify and quantify a multitude of honey characteristics, including sugar, acid and amino acid content, as well as detecting fraudulent materials involving the addition of different types of syrup or other sugar solutions. The systems established and inherent ease-of-use allow non-expert users to conduct analyses from measurement to final report in just minutes and without chromatography. Bruker also introduced a second-generation module for wine profiling that, for the first time, includes key regions in France, Italy and Spain with a significantly enlarged accessible database. This system can determine key authenticity parameters, such as grape variety, vintage year and possible water addition.

Following a several-year absence, PerkinElmer returned to the Pittcon exhibit floor with several new spectrometer-based product introductions this year. Its new PinAAcle 500 system is a fully integrated flame-only atomic absorption (AA) spectrometer designed for laboratories needing easy-to-use systems for detecting metals and metalloids in environmental samples. The device is the first AA system engineered for complete corrosion resistance with a fully contained optics system, conformal-coated circuit boards, polymer-coated flame shield and a polymeric sample introduction module. This rugged design virtually eliminates maintenance requirements, thereby reducing overall operating costs and lowering the user’s cost per sample. Its touchscreen interface operates with the company’s intuitive, icon-based interface Syngistix software. The system can also be coupled with a new FAST Flame sample automation accessory which provides the lowest cost per element flame AA available.

PerkinElmer also introduced its Spotlight FTIR microscope system for researchers working in materials analysis for pharmaceutical, forensic, biomedical and biomaterials applications. The Frontier FTIR option for this system delivers high sensitivity, configurability and flexibility with its upgradable optical system and broad range of accessories. These give the system the ability to operate in the near, nearmid, mid-far and far-infrared spectrums. Its automated technology allows users to switch spectral ranges at the touch of a button, freeing up time for more specialized analyses.

Waters Corp. announced a full spectrum molecular imaging system for advanced molecular imaging of tissue samples at Pittcon.For the 2015 spectrometer market, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments introduced its new high-performance RF-6000 spectrofluorophotometer. This instrument, with a broad range of accessories and new intuitive LabSolutions RF software, offers the ultimate performance, according to its developers, for chemical, environmental, pharmaceutical, food and life science applications. The instrument offers the highest sensitivity and highest signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in its class (SNR >1,000 RMS and > 350 peak-peak). This high sensitivity allows for low limits of quantitation, easily achieving quantitation of fluorescein to concentrations of 1x10-13 mol/L. Additionally, an auto-gain control function on the instrument ensures measurements are performed without the influence of environmental factors. As a result, the instrument can perform accurate and highly quantitative measurements over a wide six-order dynamic range, from 10-13 to 10-7 mol/L.

Waters Corp. announced a full spectrum molecular imaging system for advanced molecular imaging of tissue samples at Pittcon. Based on its Synapt G2-Si mass spectrometer, this imaging system is the first to allow scientists to access enhanced matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) and desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) with ion mobility separation (IMS) in a single MS platform. This enabling technology allows research laboratories to pinpoint with greater specificity the distribution of large and small molecules within tissue samples. Information derived from imaging experiments can provide meaningful data for cancer, cardiovascular and neuro-degenerative research by measuring the distribution of molecules in cells and tissues. MS imaging also allows researchers to identify different tissue types based on their molecular composition.

Combining MALDI, IMS and DESI on the same instrument brings molecular imaging into a new realm, according to Jeff Mazzeo, senior director of health sciences at Waters. “This new full spectrum imaging system optimizes our MS technologies to deliver a new level of detail and information beyond that of any individual imaging technique.” In recognition of this accomplishment, the imaging system was awarded the 2015 Pittcon Editors’ Silver Award for the most innovative product at the conference.

Ocean Optics also introduced a new iteration of its Maya brand, the Maya LSL spectrometer. This device is an innovative combination of a back-thinned CCD array detector and a low stray light optical design that results in high-sensitivity, high-throughput performance for applications ranging from chemical catalysis to Raman spectroscopy analyses. With its rapid response and enhanced accuracy, the device is ideal for life science and process monitoring applications, especially where speed and precision can save time, improve efficiency and reduce costs.