2013 R&D 100 Winner
LBL HT-NIMS Screening technologyMass spectrometers offer an accurate way to profile the metabolites of biological reactions, but current technologies rely on time-consuming chromatography techniques for sample preparation, and are costly for large-scale screens. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have removed this barrier with High-Throughput NIMS (HT-NIMS) Screening technology, which simplifies sample preparation and boosts machine throughput a hundred-fold.

HT-NIMS (high-throughput nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry) screening technology uses a laser pulse to probe the nature of materials deposited on a treated silicon surface. It owes its speed and efficiency to the integration of sophisticated chemistries with miniaturized microarray printing and MS technologies. Using an automated method called “acoustic printing,” developed by Nextval Inc., the system makes it possible for researchers to rapidly deposit 10,000 separate microscopic samples on a single silicon slide. The slide is machine-fed into a mass spectrometer that reads each sample using the laser-based NIMS process. Because the system requires extremely small samples of analytes—as little as 10 pL—it preserves valuable stocks of the archived compounds used in the screens. One silicon NIMS chip carrying up to 10,000 printed samples can be processed and screened in just a few hours.

High-throughput nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry technology

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Nextval Inc.

Development Team

Xioliang Cheng (Berkeley Lab) Matt Greving (Nextval) Trent Northen (Berkeley Lab)


The HT-NIMS Screening technology Development Team
Trent Northen, Principal Developer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Xioliang Cheng, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Matthew Greving, Nextal Inc.