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May 2013 • Volume 43 • No. 1

labcanada.com New flu drug stops virus in its tracks 6


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page 3

Editorial

welcome

Lab Product News has transitioned to an all-electronic platform, and this e-magazine is its first issue in this new format. Not only is it a green choice – saving trees and reducing emissions relating to transportation – it provides you with a rich media interactive experience, allowing you to download white papers, catalogues, videos, and more. The magazine’s format has been redesigned to facilitate easy reading, with a larger font size and lots of navigation links to help you find the stories and information you want. Throughout the magazine, you’ll find stories and features that will keep you up-to-date with important news in Canada’s scientific and research communities, along with the latest in new products, technical features and case histories. We’d like to hear what you think and welcome your feedback!

Leslie Burt Publisher / Editor lburt@labcanada.com, 416-510-6835

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page 4

industry News Industry news & events

Nanotech project seeks better batteries A new nanotechnology research project at the University of Waterloo

is exploring novel approaches to materials and chemical components

Professor Linda Nazar. Image courtesy of University of Waterloo.

of batteries that could result in more powerful and longer-lasting batteries for hybrid electric or electric cars. Under the leadership of Professor Linda Nazar of the Faculty of Science and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology at Waterloo, the project has just received funding of $1.8 million from Natural Resources Canada’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative. Dr Nazar, a holder of a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Solid State Materials since 2004, has focused her research on developing new materials for energy storage and conversion for the past 15 years. She has

published well over 100 papers, review articles and patents in the field which the university says are cited on average over 125 times each year. “The funding from Natural Resources Canada allows us to expand our electrochemical energy storage laboratory here at Waterloo to explore beyond lithium-ion batteries using nanotechnology and completely different approaches to battery chemistry,� she says.

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page 5

W E N

“This research is high-risk, but it has the potential to create batteries with much greater storage capacity and at lower costs.” Titled “High Energy Density Storage for Automotive Applications”, the new project includes partners Hydro-Québec, the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning, and BASF (SE). “One of the greatest challenges to the sustainable energy field is adequate electrochemical energy storage,” she adds.“Although there are improvements that can be made using existing battery chemistry to make an electric car last longer before needing a recharge, we expect that im-

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page 6

industry News Industry news & events

Flu drug stops virus in its tracks A new class of influenza drug has been shown effective against drugresistant strains of the flu virus, according to a study led by University of British Columbia researchers. Published recently in Science, the study details the development of a new drug candidate that prevents the flu virus from spreading from one cell to the next. The drug is shown to successfully treat mice with lethal strains of the flu virus. In order to spread in the body, the flu virus first uses a protein, called hemagglutinin, to bind to the healthy cell’s receptors. Once it has inserted its RNA and replicated, the virus uses an enzyme, called neuraminidase, to sever the connection and move on to the next healthy cell. “Our drug agent uses the same approach as current flu treatments – by preventing neuraminidase from cutting its ties with the infected cell,” says Steve Withers, chemistry professor at UBC, the study’s senior author.“But our agent latches onto this enzyme like a broken key, stuck in a lock, rendering it useless.” “One of the major challenges of the current flu treatments is that new

Steve Withers, chemistry professor at UBC

strains of the flu virus are becoming resistant, leaving us vulnerable to the

Image courtesy of University of British Columbia

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page 7

Industry News

next pandemic,” says Professor Withers.“By taking advantage of the virus’s own ‘molecular machinery’ to attach itself, the new drug could remain effective longer, since resistant virus strains cannot arise without destroying their own mechanism for infection.” The research team includes scientists from UBC, Simon Fraser University, and Centre for Disease Control in B.C., the University of Bath in the U.K. and CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering in Australia. The new drug technology was developed in collaboration with the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) and has been advanced into CDRD Ventures, CDRD’s commercialization vehicle, in order to secure private sector partners and investors to develop it through clinical trials.

Academic lab safety in the spotlight The beta version of the Dow Lab Safety Academy – a free online learning environment that shares Dow Chemical Company’s best-in-class industrial safety culture and practices – was unveiled this month at the Council for Chemical Research 2013 Annual Meeting in Arlington, Virginia. The academy resides at http://safety.dow.com and includes dozens of videos featuring lab safety guidelines for a variety of real-life scenarios, grouped under four lab safety categories. The website also provides a collection of useful resources such as a chemical reactivity worksheet and an incident alert template. “With its excellent safety record and well-known best safety practices, Dow is a reliable source for laboratory safety information,” said William Tolman, Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at University of Minnesota.“The Dow Lab Safety Academy presents material that is highly relevant to academic researchers, with modules that focus on the types of safety issues we all encounter. It is an excellent resource for students and those working in the chemical

credit: CSIRO/Magicpics. Download this video

industry.”

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page 8

Industry News

Researchers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the University of Victoria (UV) are collaborating with Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems on a major research project that aims to make fuel cell-powered buses competitive with diesel hybrids by 2015. The project is focusing on the problem of durability of the proton exchange membrane, a thin polymer film that separates the electrodes in fuel cells. Research is being conducted at Ballard’s labs and SFU’s advanced materials and mechatronics labs, to conduct sophisticated modeling, analysis and testing to improve the membrane’s stability, and the ability to accurately predict the product’s lifetime over several years of service. The project is funded by Auto-

Doubling fuel cell life

motive Partnership Canada. The research team, comprising 40 graduate students, undergraduate co-op students and post-doctoral fellows, is also developing simulation tools that can eventually be used by industry partners in their testing protocols and operations of fuel cell buses. SFU post-doctoral fellow Amir Niroumand, who heads the

Students/post docs conducting research on the project, pictured here at the Ballard facility, (l-r): Romina Mahboub, Daniel Zwart, Amir Niroumand, and Hooman Homayouni.

research on system level reliability and lifetime for fuel cell

Photo credit: Marianne Meadahl, Simon Fraser University.

buses, says the objective is to operate fuel cells safely with

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page 9

technical literature

Industry News

extended lifetimes by studying how and why these fuel cells work.

Project manager Kourosh Malek

“Our algorithms can be used for repair and maintenance, following

says the work to date has met all of

through something like the check engine light in the car,” explains Nir-

its 18-month milestones, including a

oumand.“When onboard diagnostics indicate maintenance is required,

substantive effort devoted to training

the check engine light goes on and tells you to take the car to the shop;

students and highly qualified person-

however, the car would not stop and would continue to operate. This re-

nel (HQPs).

quires the capability to detect potential issues and determine operating capabilities.”

“This is not only research that will lower costs, extend product life and address sustainability issues,” adds Erik Kjeang, SFU project lead.“These HQPs, vital to the project, are creating

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Image courtesy of Automotive Partnership Canada.

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page 10

Food & Safety

Detecting

FOOD FRAUD By Robert packer

P

omegranate juice’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past 10 years.This has been due to a combination of the perceived health benefits of consuming the juice’s various antioxidant compounds (punicalagin, anthocyanins and ellagic acid) and its increased mainstream availability through Western pomegranate producers.This increase is highlighted by the rise in the consumption of 8-ounce servings of pomegranate juice in the US, which went from 75 million servings in 2004 to 450 million servings by 2008.1 Popular juice blends, such as apple and grape, are less bitter and can make the overall juice taste more pleasant to those new to pomegranate.These blends have an additional advantage of being cheaper than

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page 11

Food & Safety Figure 1a

Figure 1c

Figure 1b

Figure 1a: Mass spectral profile of pomegranate juice. Figure 1b: Mass Spectral profile of grape juice. Figure 1c: Mass spectral of pomegranate juice with 1% grape juice adulteration.

pure pomegranate juice. Whereas a gallon of pomegranate juice concentrate costs $30-60, a gallon of apple or grape juice is between $5-7.This means if a pomegranate juice product is labelled as a blend with apple and grape juice, the consumer can expect to pay less than the cost of pure pomegranate juice. However, problems occur when lower-cost juices are added and are not mentioned on the label.This fraudulent blending can occur anywhere along the complicated supply chain from overseas producers to middlemen, and the final bottler may not be aware the juice has been adulterated. How can we detect this? While traceability is still an issue, detection of these fraudulent juices is important. Chromatography combined with mass spectrometry has been used to detect marker compounds for both pomegranate and the adulterant juices to good effect.2 The issue with these techniques is that they require a certain amount of sample preparation before analysis and the chromatography process itself can take up to an hour.The AxION Direct Sample Analysis (DSA) system integrated to the AxION 2 Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer (TOF MS)

allows for the direct ionization and detection of the juice in seconds without sample preparation or method development.This not only speeds up the analysis to less than 10 seconds, but it also means that non-scientists can test for adulteration without the need to understand the fundamental chemistry. Figure 1 shows the mass spectral profiles of 1a: pomegranate juice, 1b: grape juice and 1c: pomegranate juice with 1% grape juice adulteration, carried out on a PerkinElmer AxION DSA/TOF MS system with juice pipetted directly onto steel mesh for analysis, with gas temperature (25 ËšC), flow rate (3 L/min) and capillary exit voltage (-100V) previously adjusted to maximize signal, giving an average mass accuracy of less than 5 ppm. Figure 1a shows that there are significant contributions from citric and malic acid in pomegranate juice, Figure 1b shows that grape juice also has malic and citric acids but also a contribution from tartaric acid. As this is not present in pomegranate, this means tartaric acid can be used as a marker for grape juice addition to pomegranate juice. This is supported by Figure 1c where 1% grape juice has been added to pomegranate juice and the tartaric is still clearly viable. Hence, the juice is shown to be adulterated (with grape or another tartaric acid-containing fruit juice).

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page 12

Food & Safety Figure 2a

Figure 2b

Figure 2c

Figure 2a: Second derivative spectra of 27 pomegranate, apple and grape mixtures.

Figure 2d

Figure 2b: Second derivative spectra of pure pomegranate. Figure 2c: Second derivative spectra of pure apple. Figure 2d: Second derivative spectra of pure grape.

Is there an alternative technique? DSA/TOF MS is a relatively simple, quick technique to carry out an accurate analysis of pomegranate juice adulteration but most cases of adulteration are in larger percentages. Given this, can we use a screening technique so that all samples can be scanned in an effective, yet efficient way? One possible technology that has been investigated is UV/Vis spectroscopy.3 For this work, 27 pomegranate, apple and grape mixtures were measured undiluted in 1 mm reduced-path length cuvettes (as the samples absorb strongly, a 10-mm cuvette would be unsuitable) and measured using a PerkinElmer LAMBDA™ 25 UV/Vis spectrometer with a fixed 1-nm bandpass and a 0.1-nm data interval (in order to produce as many data points as possible for the chemometric analysis) with the resulting second derivative spectra shown in Figure 2a, pure pomegranate shown in Figure 2b, pure apple in 2c and grape in 2d. Second derivative spectroscopy is a useful tool when measuring natural products as it tends to be less susceptible to nonspecific background absorbance effects while, in this particular case, enhancing peaks of analytical interest. Most mixtures, Figure 2a, show two significant features − a feature at 530 nm which is seen in pomegranate, 2b, and grape, 2d. This is due to the red colour of both pomegranate and grape juice and it is not surprising that apple juice has no observed feature. The spectra in Figure 2b also reveal features in the UV region for pomegranate juice that were present in all pomegranate-containing mixtures. These features are primarily due to the contributions from antioxidant compounds such as ellagic acid and give us a positive marker for pomegranate.

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page 13

Food & Safety Figure 3a

This means that UV/Vis spectroscopy can be used, by measuring the loss of absorbance in this region, as an indication of the extent to which the pomegranate juice has been adulterated. Alternatively, it could be used as a check for juice blends that the correct pomegranate, apple and grape ratios are present, as shown in Figure 3a, which is a quantitative fit to the data which shows excellent straight-line correlation. From this fit, it is shown in Figure 3b that for unknown mixtures of the juices, the ratios can be calculated.

Figure 3a: UV/Vis spectroscopy can be used as a check for juice blends that the correct pomegranate, apple and grape ratios are present.

Figure 3b

Conclusion This work has shown that monitoring of incoming juices does not need to be difficult, time consuming or expensive with testing technologies such as DSA/TOF MS and screening technologies such UV/Vis spectroscopy. Detection technologies such as these will be essential in ensuring that the food and beverage products that are being imported are both safe and authentic. References and Literature 1

History of Pomegranate Juice Adulteration. Michael T. Roberts (2011) Intentional and Unintentional Adulteration of Food Ingredients and Dietary Supplements. USP workshop, Baltimore, USA.

Composition of pomegranate juice. D.A. Krueger (2012) J. AOAC Int., 95(1): 163-168.

2

Calculation of ratios of unknown mixtures of the juices.

3

A rapid method to assess authenticity of “100% pure” pomegranate juices by UV/Visible spectroscopy and multivariate analysis, R. Boggia et. al. (2012) J. Food and Agric. Awaiting publication.

4

Antioxidant Activity of Pomegranate Juice and Its Relationship with Phenolic Composition and Processing, M. Gil et. al. (2000) J. Agric. Food Chem. 48, 4581-4589.

About the Author Robert Packer is a solutions development leader for PerkinElmer. Robert’s expertise ranges from materials characterization technology to other methodologies in food analysis.

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page 14

Lab Automation

simplifyingquality controltesting

Figure 1

By Nicole Keppy

T

he quality control processes of a laboratory are critical to ensuring that high-quality data is collected and reported accurately every time. A problem with any step in the process can lead to a multitude of consequences including out-of-specification results, delays in product release, and even product recalls. Some of the largest contributors to these problems arise from analyst errors and unplanned method deviations. This note will demonstrate a number of ways in which Thermo Scientific CUE software, included with every Evolution 200 Series UV-Visible spectrophotometer, can be used to reduce analyst error and unplanned method deviations while simplifying the overall quality control testing process. We will consider four main components of a quality control method and demonstrate how customized CUE scripts can streamline and improve each using the US Pharmacopeia (USP) method for percent assay of acetaminophen as an example.These method components include system suitability, sample measurement, data analysis, and result reporting. System suitability is an important part of any quality control method. System suitability tells the user if the test system is functioning properly before and during the analysis. A common test for system suitability of a spectro-

Figure 1: User prompts can be used to notify the user of an event and/or prompt them to perform specific actions at the appropriate time. Here, the user is prompted to measure the blank as a sample, notified that system suitability has passed, and then prompted to measure the reference standard.

photometer is photometric stability or drift.This can be tested before beginning the analysis and/or at periodic intervals during the analysis by reading the blank as a sample, or using another suitable control. CUE is used in this example to both prompt the analyst to perform system suitability appropriately and to determine whether or not the system suitability test has passed (Figure 1). If the system suitability test passes, the analyst is prompted to measure a reference standard. If system suitability fails, the analyst is prompted to repeat the system suitability test and the script is stopped. Building these controls into the CUE software script ensures that sample analysis is not run until system suitability is achieved.

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page 15

Lab Automation Figure 1

actual weight of each sample used in the preparation of the sample solution. This information is then used in subsequent steps to perform calculations on the collected data which are required for complete analysis of the samples. When the number of samples analyzed by a method varies, or a user wishes to have the option to repeat or verify a result, scripts can be programmed to ask the user if they have another sample to measure. In this example, if the user answers ‘yes’, sample measurement and analysis actions are performed for an additional sample, and the user may continue to make additional measurements as necessary. If the user answers ‘no’, the script stops and all of the data and results are saved into a single workbook file.

Figure 2: CUE scripts can be programmed to calculate, compare, and display results automatically to reduce errors and save time.

Sample measurement Sample specific information is often needed to process results or track specific qualities of the sample, such as lot number or expiration date. With CUE scripts, this information can be tied directly to the sample data and results through the use of interactive user prompts. Sample details can later be displayed in the result table or used in subsequent calculations and other steps in the sample analyses procedure. For added security, sample identification may be read directly into a CUE script with the use of bar codes and a compatible bar code reader. In this example, users are prompted to enter the

Data analysis To analyze a quality control sample for quantitative purposes, it is generally necessary to complete a set of mathematical calculations on the collected data and compare the results of those calculations to predetermined sample specifications. With CUE scripts, these analyses can be performed automatically according to method specifications and the user can be notified by a user prompt whether the sample passed or failed the pre-determined specifications (Figure 2). Additionally, the result can be reported and displayed in the appropriate results table. In this example, we calculate the quantity and percent assay of acetaminophen in the sample automatically using the following equations: Quantity = RefWeight*(Asam/Aref) Percent Assay = 100*(Quantity/SamWeight)

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page 16

Lab Automation

The results are compared to the predetermined specifications outlined in the associated USP method. Here, the sample passes if the percent assay result is greater than 98% and less than 102%. Result reporting The reporting of results is a critical step in any analytical method. Several options are available for reporting results collected using CUE scripts including the ability to manually or automatically: • Print result tables directly from a CUE script • Export result tables directly from a CUE script • Save results as a workbook that can be opened in Thermo Scientific INSIGHT or INSIGHT Security software – allowing access to full reporting capabilities When opened in this software, saved workbook files can be electronically signed to assist with data management and compliance with 21 CFR Part 11 regulations. Thermo Scientific CUE software provides a platform to create a customized analyzer for quality control test methods. Whether the user is working in a highly controlled regulated laboratory or with routine QA/QC analyses, customized CUE scripts can help to reduce analyst error and the occurrence of unplanned method deviations, while simplifying the overall quality control testing process for technicians. About the Author Nicole Keppy is senior product specialist, UV-Visible Spectroscopy with Thermo Fisher Scientific.

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page 17

Nanotechnology Figure 1

Defining

nanomaterials By Jeremy Warren

To help win public trust, nanotechnology requires a regulatory framework – but just what is a nanomaterial? Here the author suggests a definition that could help break the legislative deadlock and describes a measurement solution. “Proper implementation of nanomaterials requires the appropriate tools and methodologies for which measurement aspects are crucial.” Perhaps the words of Michelle Yeomans in an article for Cosmetics Design Europe serve as the best summary of where industries are today. Following on from the European Commission’s Joint Research Council (JRC) publication proposing a common definition of the term “nanomaterial” for regulatory purposes, the past eighteen months have seen many articles expressing opinions for and against such legislation.The over-riding position is that legislation will come but that it will be a slow process, industry by industry, material by material. As a manufacturer of nanoparticle characterization instrumentation, NanoSight has been involved in the discussions about legislation in both Europe and the US. We have noted the views of leading academics and leading industrialists and watched as different approaches have been suggested. These initiatives started in late 2011 when the European Commission

The schematic shows the process of an NTA measurement. Figure 1a shows the particles present in liquid illuminated by the laser. Figure 1b shows the individual tracks of each particle. Finally, figure 1c shows the distribution of the particles under study.

adopted a Recommendation on an overarching definition of nanomaterial. According to this Recommendation (2011/696/EU): • “Nanomaterial” means a natural, incidental or manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50% or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm - 100 nm. • In specific cases and where warranted by concerns for the environment, health, safety or competitiveness the number size distribution threshold of 50% may be replaced by a threshold between 1 and 50%.

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page 18

Nanotechnology

• By derogation from the above, fullerenes, graphene flakes and single wall carbon nanotubes with one or more external dimensions below 100 nm should be considered as nanomaterials.” By the middle of last year, further statements were released by the EU’s Joint Research Council which described the requirements for particle size measurements starting from the EU definition above. It discussed the related generic measurement issues and reviews the capabilities of the measurement methods currently available. An overview of eight particle size measurements methods was given. Importantly from our perspective, particle tracking analysis (PTA) was included. PTA is the Research Council’s term for nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) developed by NanoSight. Let us now look at NTA and understand how it makes its measurements. NTA visualizes measures and characterizes virtually all particles in a range from 10 nm-1000 nm. Particle size, concentration, zeta potential and aggregation can all be simultaneously analyzed while a fluorescence mode provides speciation of labelled particles.These measurements are made in real time, enabling the monitoring of the subtle changes in the characteristics of particle populations with all of these analyses confirmed by visual validation. From loading the sample into the cell to getting results can take as little as 2-3 minutes, with the ability to run batches of samples under the same conditions and directly compare results. NTA is a method for direct and real-time visualization and analysis of

nanoparticles in liquids. Based on a laser-illuminated microscopy technique, Brownian motion of nanoparticles is analyzed in real-time by a CCD or CMOS camera, each particle is simultaneously but separately visualized and tracked by a dedicated particle-tracking image analysis program.The NTA program simultaneously identifies and tracks the centre of each particle on a frame-byframe basis throughout the length of the video – typically 30 seconds.The average distance each particle moves in the image is automatically calculated. From this value, the particle diffusion coefficient can be obtained and knowing the sample temperature and solvent viscosity, the particle’s hydrodynamic diameter is identified. Because each particle is visualized and analyzed separately, the resulting particle size measurement and size distribution does not suffer from the limitations of being an intensity weighted, z-average distribution.The ability of NTA to simultaneously measure particle size and particle scatter intensity allows heterogeneous particle mixtures to be resolved and particle concentration can be measured directly; the particle size distribution profile obtained by NTA being a direct number/frequency distribution. Also, in 2012, nanoparticle characterization has been consolidated further with publication of an ASTM International standard, ASTM E2834, which describes the NTA methodology for detection and analysis of nanoparticles.This guide covers the measurement of particle size distribution of suspended particles from approximately 10nm to the onset of sedimentation (depending on sample). It provides a general overview and guide as to the methodology that should be followed for good practice.The guide discusses the scientific basis for the technique, size limits, concentration ranges, sampling and sample

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page 19

Nanotechnology

preparation considerations, condition and analysis selection, data interpretation and comparison to other techniques. It states that “NTA is one of the very few techniques that are able to deal with the measurement of particle size distribution in the nano-size region.” Here at NanoSight, we have seen the rapid adoption of NTA over the past six or more years.The company has installed more than 500 systems worldwide with users including BASF, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Proctor and Gamble, Roche and Unilever together with many universities and research institutes. In addition to this, users have authored more than 700 third-party papers citing results made by NTA which underscores the validity of this technology. So, having understood NTA/PTA, and referring back to the JRC’s candidate methods list, where the JRC generalize the lower detection limit of detection of NTA as 25nm, it is clear that the only methods which cover the whole range from 1-100nm and provide the specified number count are atomic force microscopy (AFM) and electron microscopy. Neither of these are suitable for lowcost and rapid determination of a statistically robust number count. Here, the EU definition provides guidance thus “until harmonized measurement methods are available, best alternative methods should be applied” (2011/696/EU). Our view of “best alternative methods” is a combination of routine NTA and occasional electron microscopy. NTA can rapidly provide count and particle size distribution, and complementary occasional use of electron microscopy can inform the bottom end of the distribution and assess whether there are agglomerates or aggregates present. The JRC reference report makes some clear statements which are worthy

of repetition here. Firstly it states that results depend upon the methods used, and that the matching of these technologies with sample types is critical. Secondly, that no single method represents a complete solution. Our view is that use of complementary method, perhaps visualization and counting methods together, do indeed provide the best current alternative. About the Author Jeremy Warren is chief executive of Nanosight.

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page 20

Nanotechnology Figure 1

Wideband

NANOMECHANICAL spectroscopy

Report on the Lorentz Contact Resonance imaging mode provides wideband nanomechanical spectroscopy. Schematic illustrates Lorentz Contact Resonance imaging

T

he capabilities of Anasys Instruments’ nanoscale materials characterization techniques have been expanded with a Lorentz Contact Resonance (LCR) imaging mode.The LCR mode is now available for its afm+ and nanoIR systems. LCR allows rapid broadband nanomechanical measurements over a range of temperatures. LCR imaging differentiates between multiple components of a sample and allows precise location of the probe for subsequent chemical or thermal analysis with nanoscale resolution. LCR provides both nanomechanical spectroscopy and compositional mapping on the highest levels of resolution. For example, analysis of wideband contact resonance spectra may readily differentiate different domains in polymer blends while the high-resolution image maps provide insight to materials components in heterogeneous polymer blends. The technique is based on Anasys’ proprietary Thermalever probes. LCR works by using a pole piece to focus a magnetic field onto the end of the

probe. An oscillating current is then passed through the probe.The interaction between the magnetic field and the electric field causes a perpendicular force in the cantilever resulting in an oscillating behaviour of the cantilever. Driving the tip in this fashion, instead of with a piezoelectric crystal, provides advantages including no moving parts in the drive system, which in turn leads to clean cantilever resonance spectra with no parasitic peaks.Then, using the Anasys Analysis Studio software, a wide range of frequency sweeps are made (from 1 kHz to 4 MHz). By placing the Thermalever probe on the surface of a sample and sweeping the entire frequency range, we can obtain mechanical spectra of the surface. Materials with different stiffness will display different amplitudes or shifted peaks at the resonant frequencies of the cantilever. This work was recently published in the journal Nanotechnology

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page 21

Pittcon 2013

PITTCON 2013

First time in Philadelphia a hit Pittcon 2013, the 64th Conference and Exposition for Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, brought together more than 18,000 attendees and exhibitors in Philadelphia in March this year. Pittcon has always had a strong global presence, and 2013 was no exception with nearly a third of visitors coming from countries outside the US, including Canada. Attendees include lab managers, scientists, chemists, researchers and professors, from industrial, academic, and government labs, all across a wide selection of scientific disciplines. More than 2,000 technical sessions presented in 78 symposia,

12 awards, 93 oral sessions, 12 workshops and 62 posters. Each year, the attending editors of scientific publications vote to choose what they consider the top three products at the show. This year’s winners are profiled in this issue: Senova won gold for its pHit pH meter, OptoFluidics won silver for its Nanotweezer optical trapping system, and bronze was shared by APIX for its multigas analyzer technology and Pie Photonics for its Pie-in-a-Box interferometer. Next year’s Pittcon 2014 takes place from March 2-6 in Chicago. The following pages provide a snapshot of the laboratory instruments and equipment seen at this year’s show.

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page 22

Pittcon 2013

Glass-free pH meter needs no calibration

Calibration-free pHit Sensor pH meter has a new technology platform with advanced sensor and electronics that eliminates glass electrodes. The meter is virtually maintenance-free. It can be stored dry and the glass-free design eliminates the threat of broken pH electrodes. Measurement data can be transmitted via USB or Bluetooth and viewed, manipulated and exported using proprietary software. Senova Systems >>> Click # 8 to request more information

Balance combines portability and readability

CB compact balance combines value and durability with easy-to-clean features. Suitable for classroom use, food portioning and weighing small quantities in most settings. Compact size makes it easy to store and transport, and built-in battery operation means it can be used anywhere. Large, high-contrast display is easily visible from a distance. Adam Equipment >>> Click # 10 to request more information

FT interferometer has 400nm spectrum

With no moving parts and no scanning elements, the portable Pie-in-a-Box interferometer measures spectral content via Fourier Transform. Available with a 400nm wide spectrum within the 400nm to 1000nm range. Can be configured to operate with other line arrays for higher sensitivity, resolution, dynamic range and other performance characteristics. Suits single-mode applications including laser characterization and fibre sensor interrogation. Pie Photonics >>> Click # 9 to request more information

ICP-MS system is ultra sensitive

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), the aurora Elite, offers extremely high sensitivity and matrix robustness with 1.5 GHz / ppm sensitivity for precise and accurate quantification at single digit ppt levels and below. This level of sensitivity makes it suitable for semiconductor, geochemistry, materials science and related applications. Offers 21 CFR Part 11 compliance. Bruker >>> Click # 11 to request more information

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page 23

Pittcon 2013

Table-top testers offer precise, high-speed analysis

Compact table-top testers – the EZ-X Series – provide high levels of test force measurement precision, guaranteed range, control precision and test speed. Series includes three different testers configurable into 29 different models suitable for the small-capacity testing requirements of several industries including evaluation of food texture, pharmaceuticals and their packaging, and electrical/electronic parts. All instruments provide ± 0.5% accuracy. Shimadzu Scientific Instruments >>> Click # 12 to request more information

PCR set-up workstation is highly flexible A flexible design means the automated STARlet PCR liquid-handling system can accommodate any DNA amplification reagent kit, from simple setups and small budgets to highly demanding workflows. Suitable for applications ranging from gene expression, genotyping and sequencing to mutagenesis. Handles different PCR types such as endpoint-, q-, multiplex or linear PCR. Occupies a small footprint.

Hamilton Robotics >>> Click # 14 to request more information

Instrument separates, sizes particles simultaneously

Robotic titrosampler automates wine analysis The 855 robotic titrosampler performs pH measurement, total acidity and/or SO2 titration analysis of wine and juice samples. Built-in titrator saves valuable bench space, and a 106-place rack uses standard 50 ml centrifuge tubes. Special 10,000-step dosing technology provides consistent and accurate pipetting for reliable and reproducible results. User-friendly software is simple enough for even a novice to use.

Centrifugal field-flow fractionation (FFF) instrument, the CF2000, is designed for routine use. The instrument offers flexibility, robustness and excellent performance, allowing simultaneous highresolution particle separation and sizing. Separation range is broad, ranging from samples of 8 nm up to several microns, making it suitable for nanoparticles but also up into the microparticle size category.

Metrohm >>> Click # 13 to request more information

Postnova Analytics >>> Click # 15 to request more information

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page 24

Pittcon 2013

Electrophoresis platform serves many industries

Capillary electrophoresis platform provides automated, quantitative analysis of protein purity, charge isoform distribution and glycan structure. Originally designed with biopharma analysis in mind, the PA 800 plus system can also be used in food and beverage quality studies for monosaccharide and protein analysis, and in quantitative characterization of ions, organic acids and other charged or polar molecules.

Chip-based mass spec fits in a hood

Mass spectrometer uses chip-based micro-electrical-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology. The new 4000 MiD system fits comfortably into a standard lab fume hood, opening up further opportunities in the field of reaction monitoring. Manufacturer says the instrument is smaller, lighter, consumes less energy, is easier to maintain and cheaper to run than conventional MS systems.

Microsaic Systems >>> Click # 18 to request more information

Beckman Coulter >>> Click # 16 to request more information

Syringe-based valve system for ICP

The Assist-CM automation accessory combines a high-speed, high-accuracy dual syringe module with a multi-port valve to automate sample and internal standard introduction to an ICP optical or mass spectrometer. When used with a standard autosampler, the accessory provides twice the sample throughput, halves operating costs, and dramatically improves precision and accuracy, the manufacturer says. Glass Expansion >>> Click # 17 to request more information

Vacuum systems have Bluetooth-enabled operation

The SC920 and SC950 vacuum pump systems are designed with controller-managed vacuum systems via Bluetooth-enabled wireless operation. They offer short process times with high accuracy and recovery rates – even for low boiling point solvents. Bluetooth control allows lab personnel to operate the products while stowed beneath the work surface, within cabinets or fume hoods, even with sash fully closed.

KNF Neuberger

>>>

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page 25

Pittcon 2013

GC device is based on silicon nanoscale components

Based on nano-scale silicon components, the GCAP gas chromatography device has a flexible, versatile architecture. Suitable for research labs, advanced gas analysis, and complex applications. Works with numerous carrier gases; in particular with scrubbed air as a carrier gas in lieu of expensive, cumbersome bottled gases, allowing easy in-situ deployment, nearly real-time analysis, and cost reductions. APIX >>> Click # 20 to request more information

Device facilitates nanomaterials analysis

Compact and ergonomic SAXS/WAXS attachment is designed for the Empyrean multi-purpose XRD platform. The ScatterX78 attachment consists of a chamber that houses advanced modules for the conditioning of the X-ray beam and a variety of sample holders. The whole chamber is evacuated and allows for quick and sensitive small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements even on weakly scattering and highly dilute samples. PANalytical >>> Click # 21 to request more information

System turns microscopes into nanomanipulation engines

Optical trapping technology enables rapid, automated handling of the smallest particles. The Molecular NanoTweezer system provides reversible, nanomanipulation and trapping of individual cells, viruses, nucleic acids, metal nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes and some proteins at the flip of a switch. Combines a custom bench-top instrument with optically resonant nanotweezer chips, and a microscope mount enables direct interfacing to existing microscopy equipment. Optofluidics >>> Click # 22 to request more information

Thermogravimetric analyzer is highly sensitive

The TGA 1 thermogravimetric analyzer facilitates the characterization of plastics, elastomers, thermosets and other materials. Measures up to 50 million resolution points continuously down to 0.1 Âľg for a 5-gram sample weight. No weight range change is required between small and large sample sizes. Modular design increases flexibility and ease-of-use. Automated for 24/7 sample handling and includes a variety of furnace/crucible sizes. METTLER TOLEDO >>> Click # 23 to request more information

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page 26

Pittcon 2013

Imaging particle analyzer operates automatically

The FlowCAM ES imaging particle analysis system automatically extracts, dilutes and runs samples from within a production or processing line. Speeds the process and removes the risk of human error. Detects thousands of particles and microorganisms in seconds, takes a high-res, full-colour image of each one and reveals the size and shape with 30 different measurement parameters – all in real time. Fluid Imaging Technologies >>> Click # 24 to request more information

Multi-mode micro-reactor for catalyst testing

The Rx-3050TR multi-mode tandem micro-reactor platform provides rapid evaluation, characterization and performance of catalysts. It interfaces to the inlet of a GC/MS system with PCbased control software to set up each mode of operation. Multiple operational modes allow different experiments to be conducted on the same equipment. Compatible with most gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers from major manufacturers. Frontier Lab >>> Click # 26 to request more information

Cheminformatics platform enables collaborative science

Entry level thermal plate sealer

Manual microplate heat sealer is compact, easy-touse and affordable. Heating sealing creates an airtight and chemically resistant seal without the complications of adhesives being applied to a plate. An ergonomic pull-down mechanism makes single-action heat sealing of a wide range of plates quick and simple. The MicroSeal uses a pre-set temperature of 170°C, suitable for most common sealing applications.

The ACD/Spectrus DB platform connects analytical content with chemical context, and enables collaborative science and faster decision-making. The platform builds on the developer’s desktop applications and special algorithms to unify chemical and analytical information into a homogeneous environment. The result is a “one-tomany” live cycle that brings unified laboratory intelligence to scientists across the chemistry organization.

Porvair Sciences >>> Click # 25 to request more information

Advanced Chemistry Development >>> Click # 27 to request more information

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page 27

Clinical & Life Sciences

growing

anaerobes faster While PRAS plates involve a slightly higher out-of-pocket expense, that cost is often dramatically outweighed by the benefits including faster and more reliable isolation and growth of anaerobes.

T

he demanding task of isolating and growing anaerobe microorganisms has become simplified and more accurate with the development of commercial PRAS media and has achieved the status of Best Practice in evidence-based microbiology. Today, clinical labs are increasingly adopting PRAS plates not only because they seek more reliable results that meet the Best Practice criteria, but also because they are finding that manufactured PRAS plates are in a number of ways more reliable and economical. “With PRAS media, you get better growth than traditional non-PRAS media,” says Timothy R. Cassity, Ph. D., clinical microbiologist at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth, OH.“Anaerobes normally grow slowly and some

clinical & Life Sciences

Growing cultures faster and more luxuriantly is highly beneficial to physicians because it enables them to identify the proper course of treatment more rapidly.

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page 28

Clinical & Life Sciences

produce such small colonies that they are difficult to work with. Because the same anaerobes grow more quickly and abundantly on the commercial PRAS media, it is much easier to work with them.” In a Comparison Study of Anaerobic Culture Media recently conducted by Cassity, he compared OxyPRAS Plus Brucella agar (manufactured by Oxyrase, Mansfield, OH) and non-PRAS media he was using for the general culture of anaerobes. All plates were incubated in Anoxomat jars.The study found the colonies on the OxyPRAS plates were about twice the size of those on standard TSA with blood and slightly larger than the ones on CDC anaerobic blood agar that was not reduced before use. “Also, the study found that the difference is more noticeable with slower growing anaerobes than with more rapidly growing ones, like Clostridium spp,” Cassity notes.“Since the growth on the OxyPRAS Plus Brucella agar was more luxuriant than the plates we had been using, we are replacing them with OxyPRAS Plus Brucella plates; including subculturing anaerobic isolates for identification on the Vitek 2 (microbial identification system).”

After sterilization, the oxygen-eliminating enzyme is added to the medium again to keep it reduced and anaerobic. The plate is then packaged in special oxygen barrier pouches to maintain the proper oxygen-free and -reduced environment.

The PRAS difference Isolating and growing anaerobes is tedious and time consuming.To grow, anaerobes require a medium prepared for anaerobes and a suitable anaerobic environment. Media for anaerobes needs to be chemically reduced to a level lower than that achieved by removal of oxygen alone. Anaerobes physiologically require this reduced environment to produce energy in order to grow. This level of chemical reduction is achieved by adding chemical reducing

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page 29

Clinical & Life Sciences

agents to the medium. However, the story does not end here. Heat sterilizing a chemically reduced medium with air (oxygen) present leads to the reaction of the reducing agent with oxygen to produce compounds that are harmful to some anaerobes. Once formed, these compounds cannot be removed.To prevent their formation, first oxygen is removed, i.e. make it anaerobic, then the medium is sterilized.This is the way PRAS medium (Pre-Reduced-Anaerobically-Sterilized) is made. Commercially produced PRAS medium, such as OxyPRAS plates, takes all of the tedium and difficulty out of preparing media for anaerobes. It is specially packaged to maintain reduced and anaerobic conditions and comes ready to use. All of the QC is done. Oxyrase, a supplier of PRAS media, uses an enzyme biotechnology called the Oxyrase Enzyme System to remove all oxygen from medium during preparation.Then the reducing agent is added and the medium is autoclaved. After sterilization, the oxygen-eliminating enzyme is added to the medium again to keep it reduced and anaerobic.The plate is then packaged in special oxygen barrier pouches to maintain the proper oxygen-free and -reduced environment. The resulting PRAS product offers microbiologists a convenient way to accomplish a difficult job and provides them more control throughout the entire anaerobe recovery process. “If we were to go back to using plates that weren’t PRAS, then we would have to pre-reduce them before use,” says Mary Stepney, microbiology specialist at South Bend Medical Foundation, in South Bend, IN.“Whenever we

have high volumes, and run out of the pre-reduced plates, we could take some out of the refrigerator, but they still could not be used until they are prereduced.The ready-to-use OxyPRAS plates keep work moving uninterrupted. Using PRAS also helps to ensure optimal colony development.The growth of anaerobes on OxyPRAS looks healthier than growth on refrigerated commercial anaerobic media pre-reduced prior to use.” Cassity says one of the reasons why PRAS media grows organisms more quickly is because the medium does not have as much exposure to oxygen or oxidative potential as would often be the case with non-pre-reduced media. He adds, while PRAS plates involve a slightly higher out-of-pocket expense than traditional (non-PRAS) plates, the cost difference is often dramatically outweighed by the benefits. For many PRAS media users, the improved quality and reliability of results is noteworthy among those added benefits. “The quality of the PRAS media is superior, which is very beneficial,” says Stepney.“We’ve never had a product failure or contamination issue, which sometimes occurs with uninoculated plates that are left out and exposed in the processing area.The reliability of the PRAS plate and the individually wrapped packaging makes it very convenient for us.” To many microbiologists, the superior quality of the PRAS media is enhanced when the plates are thick.This makes possible longer incubation time and increases shelf life. “The OxyPRAS media is thicker than the standard media,” explains Cassity.“It is about six millimeters thick, which is about 50 percent heavier than

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page 30

Clinical & Life Sciences

standard media.That thickness may help prevent tearing of the media on the surface and makes a difference in the longevity of the plates.That’s part of what gives them a longer shelf life. Also, the thickness accounts for a deeper, richer pool of nutrients, which I think adds to the ability to grow bigger, more luxuriant colonies, versus the standard media.” Stepney agrees:“[Due to added media thickness] incubation can be extended without worrying about the plates drying out, which normally happens after four or five days. Since moisture is not lost, the colony size of slow-growing more fastidious anaerobic organisms is not affected.” Netting the cost difference There is strong evidence that some PRAS media offers clinical microbiologists the advantages of faster and more reliable incubation, larger colonies plus improved shelf life and work time. Additionally, these are also qualities that are beneficial to physicians and patients. “Growing cultures faster and more luxuriantly is highly beneficial to physicians because it enables them to identify the proper course of treatment more rapidly,” says Cassity.“For instance, they can do beta-lactamase testing (or whatever is appropriate) more quickly because the PRAS media saves approximately a day in getting the culture results in the lab. If those results indicate that a therapy change is appropriate, then the physician knows that about a day sooner.” Mary Stepney adds, due to rising costs, most patients are discharged sooner rather than later. As a result, if it takes too long to get anaerobic

culture results reported, the patient may be discharged before the culture results are available – not an ideal situation. Cassity adds that his lab spends only a few hundred dollars extra per year for PRAS plates, so the added cost is not really an issue.“We watch our expenses very closely,” he says,“but considering our budget is approximately $6 million, a few hundred additional dollars is pretty insignificant – especially if we get results faster and more relevant to the patient’s situation. If you get a patient out of the hospital a day sooner, then you are saving something like $1,400 just in hospital costs for that day. We view this technology as a money saver, not an added cost.”

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Lab Product News May 2013