Research News

Mobilising IMS for biomedical research

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A new national initiative in ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) which aims to explore the use of IMS measurement within the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields has been launched in the UK. Professor Colin Creaser from Nottingham Trent University and Dr Paul Thomas from the University of Manchester are leading a consortium of experts and industrial partners, who will evaluate the potential of IMS in areas such as high-speed separations of complex mixtures and structural characterisation of pharmaceuticals and biomolecules.

This initiative will create a platform for a programme of internationally competitive research. As well as the two lead universities, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Waters have pledged their support. So far £530,000 has been committed to the initiative.

Colin Creaser commented that “We are at an important crossroad in the development of IMS from applications principally in the security field to a technique used widely in pharmaceutical discovery and biomedical diagnostics”.


Online symposium on MALDI fundamentals

The European Journal of Mass Spectrometry is organising a “Symposium in Print” (SiP) on MALDI Fundamentals and Related Phenomena, which is being edited by Richard Knochenmuss of Novartis. Papers submitted to this special issue of the journal will be made available to all those who register for the SiP; registration is free. Discussion of the papers will take place online and the edited discussion along with the papers will be published in print and online.

All those with an interest in this area are invited to register for the Symposium in Print at and participate in the discussion.


Stray light correction

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a new, simple method to correct errors arising from the presence of stray light. The new NIST method can nearly eliminate stray light errors, to less than 0.001% of the total signal. The method was implemented and validated using a commercial CCD-array spectrograph. They characterised the response to monochromatic emissions from tunable lasers that covered the instrument’s full spectral range. Calculations were made using the measured data to produce a matrix that quantified the magnitude of the stray-light signal for every element of the detector array for every wavelength. The matrix was then used to correct the instrument’s output signals for stray light. The method is simple and fast enough to be incorporated into an instrument’s software to perform real-time stray-light corrections without much reduction in the instrument’s speed. Contact Yuqin Zong ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) for more information.


Underwater MS

Scientists and engineers at the University of South Florida’s Center for Ocean Technology are developing equipment to allow mass spectrometers to be used under the ocean to analyse dissolved gases and volatile organic compounds in the deep marine environment. They have already developed protective housings that allow the mass spectrometer to be deployed at more than 1100ft and are now working on going to depths of up to three miles.

Underwater MS provides valuable information on significant gases such as methane, oxygen and carbon dioxide, as well as harmful compounds such as benzene, chloroform and toluene.


X-ray spectrometer detects calcium on the Moon

The D-CIXS X-ray spectrometer on board the European Space Agency’s (ESA) SMART-1 spacecraft has made the first unambiguous remote-sensing detection of calcium on the Moon. SMART-1 is currently performing the verification and calibration of its instruments, while flying in orbit 450km above the Moon at its closest distance.

Although it is still preparing for full lunar operations, D-CIXS has already started sending back high-quality data. D-CIXS is designed to measure the global composition of the Moon by measuring its X-ray fluorescence. Under normal solar illumination, it can detect elemental Mg, Al and Si and several other elements during solar flares.

On 15 January 2005, between 07:00 and about 09:00 Central European Time, a solar flare occurred. “The Sun was kind to us”, said Professor Manuel Grande of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, leader of the D-CIXS instrument team. “It set off a large X-ray flare just as we took our first look downwards at the lunar surface.”

At the time of the solar flare, D-CIXS was observing Mare Crisium, and detected the presence of calcium there in other neighbouring areas (see Figure).

D-CIXS is an ultra-compact X-ray camera and forms one of the most innovative elements of the SMART-1 scientific instrumentation. It is a cube just 15cm wide, weighing less than 5kg. D-CIXS is the first instrument of its kind to be tested in space. It is also the first X-ray spectrometer ever flown around the moon with sufficient spectral resolution to separate signals coming from different chemical elements.


Biotech exhibition

IBLA (International Biotech and Lab Automation Europe), which will be held from 15 to 16 November in London, UK, will arrange for free coach transport for invited visitors, sponsored by major exhibitors, from selected science hubs, initially throughout the south of the UK. The exhibition and conference is in its fourth year.,


MS world record

The largest yet mass-to-charge ratio of over 1 MDa with a single charge has been measured by Professor Renato Zenobi and his group at the ETH Zürich using a time-of-flight mass spectrometer with a pulsed UV laser for desorption and ionisation. They have not needed to resort to the use of multiply-charged ions, but have used an instrument equipped with a superconducting tunnel junction detector. This allowed simple and directly interpretable mass spectra to be obtained from immunoglobuline M (c. 1 MDa) and from von Willebrand factor, a group of proteins that play an important role in the coagulation of blood (signals at 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 MDa)., This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tomas Hirschfeld Award

The winner of the 2005 Hirschfeld Award, presented by the International Council for Near Infrared Spectroscopy (ICNIRS), is Professor Ana Garrido-Varo of the University of Córdoba, Spain. The award was presented at the Pittsburgh Conference in Orlando, FL, USA in March.

Professor Garrido-Varo’s main scientific work is in developing robust calibrations for use in the Spanish agro–food industry and the evaluation of analysis modes for the precise analysis of unground/intact agro–food products.


2006 Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award

The DASp (German Working group for Applied Spectroscopy) regularly awards the “Bunsen-Kirchhoff-Preis für analytische Spektroskopie” to honour preferably the work of young scientists from universities, research institutes or industry who made excellent contributions to analytical spectroscopy. A life-work of a scientific personality can be recognised as well.

The Award consists of an award document and an amount of €2500 sponsored by PerkinElmer GmbH. The DASp is seeking nominations for the 2006 Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award for Analytical Spectroscopy. The Award will be presented during a Bunsen–Kirchhoff Symposium at the Analytica Conference 2006 in Munich, Germany, from 25 to 28 April 2006.

Nominations must be made by members of the DASp, but any scientist meeting the requirements is eligibile. Self-nomination is not allowed. The decision as to whom the prize is to be awarded shall be made by a jury consisting of the current members of the board of DASp.

A nomination should include: a letter with the candidate’s accomplishments; a list of publications or recent work; scientific curriculum vitae stating the age of the candidate; the candidate’s address, phone fax and e-mail. All documents should be sent not later than 30 November 2005 to Professor Dr Hugo M. Ortner, Osterbichl 16, A-6600 Breitenwang/Reutte, Austria. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Copernicus Award

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Fundacja na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej (FNP, Foundation for Polish Science) have established the first-ever Copernicus Award. This will honour researchers who have made outstanding and lasting contributions to German–Polish research cooperation, especially in the promotion of young researchers. Nominations are invited from researchers working at universities or research institutions in Germany or Poland or at scientific institutions devoted to German–Polish cooperation. Laureates will be selected by a jury of three German and three Polish representatives, and the award ceremony will be held alternately in Germany and Poland.

The prize money of €50,000 will be divided equally among the laureates, who may use the money for any scientific purpose within the scope of the funding programmes of the DFG and FNP. Nominations must be received before 15 October 2005. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,


Enols detected in flames by MBMS

Enols have not been previously detected in flames, but their presence has been discovered using molecular-beam mass spectrometry (MBMS). This work is the result of an international collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Cornell University, Sandia National Laboratory in the USA, the University of Bielefeld, Germany and the National Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory in Hefei, China. The work was carried out at the Advanced Light Source facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in CA, USA. The MBMS instrument there is 40 times more precise than others in key energy measurements and takes advantage of the intensely bright beams from the Advanced Light Source. It is hoped that the discovery of enols in flames, which had not been incorporated into present-day computer models, will help in the development of cleaner burning fuels.

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