In 1964, University of Utah chemistry professor J. Calvin Giddings enunciated a theoretical platform, “unified separation science,” that could confer the resolving power of GC to LC. Giddings’ model combined the higher mobile phase diffusion and efficiency of GC with LC’s higher selectivity via orthogonal separation modes. His vision has been made a reality through supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC), which uses supercritical or subcritical carbon dioxide as the mobile phase.
“Fun new tools,” particularly in mass detection, have encouraged a new conversation among separation scientists, says Nicholas Hall, national sales director at LECO (St. Joseph, MI). “Every time this occurs, the instrument vendors engage in the equivalent of an arms race, where the battles are fought over specifications— more resolution, greater fragmentation capability.” But the real discussion has recently involved the very nature of chromatography, Hall says. “Just as important as the tool used for detection on the back end is the time and optimization that goes on at the front end.” Thus the resurgence of basic chromatography optimization, the application of solid analytical chemistry, and a focus on chromatography as the optimization of mass spectrometers. “If you have good separation and good sample preparation, and that goes into the MS, then you’re really optimizing the mass spectrometer’s capabilities.”
Our EXPERT: Kimberly Moser Instructional Laboratory Manager University of Oklahoma
When to upgrade your mass spectrometer (MS) varies from user to user but there are a few main indicators that are common to many situations, the experts say.
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Problem: ELISA assays are a workhorse assay used in pharmaceutical research and molecular diagnostic labs. This assay can be a high-volume service area for contract labs. However, many IVD labs and CROs have difficulty in costeffectively scaling their ELISA workflow to meet customer demand. This simple assay becomes deceptively complex: time sensitive steps and subtle workflow changes between different tests can be challenging to process as throughput increases. Reagent costs can cut further into tight operating margins. At some point manual processing becomes too challenging from an IVD compliance and operational perspective. Automating the laboratory’s workflow is the answer—but it can seem difficult to implement and expensive.