Innovative Products Introduced at Pittcon 2023
Our editors' choices of some of the exciting new products featured at the Pittcon Conference
It was great to see the return of the Pittcon Conference, held in Philadelphia, PA from March 18 to 22, 2023. The conference featured a large exhibit hall that contained a large diversity of vendors, equipment, and instruments for the lab. The exhibit hall provided scientists from many different kinds of labs the opportunity to see new and innovative products, and collaborate on new answers to technical challenges with the vendors providing those solutions.
The exhibit hall had more than 500 vendors who delivered dozens of new products. There were a variety of new instruments and technologies that excited Lab Manager’s editors. Here, we highlight several choices based on the products’ differentiated capabilities and those that provided opportunities to transform some element of the work done by many kinds of labs.
Enhanced data analysis software
JEOL focused on the science of energy at Pittcon. One of the key new products they introduced is the msFineAnalysis AI software, which significantly accelerates the analysis of mass spectrometry data using artificial intelligence and machine learning. The software includes predictions of electron ionization fragmentation of the over 100 million chemical compounds contained in PubChem. By combining data from fragmentation and soft ionization, this software can provide predictions of chemical structures to all of the resolved peaks in a mass spectrum in minutes. Depending on the type and complexity of the sample, it might take an experienced mass spectrometrist days, weeks, or months to analyze the same data.
The msFineAnalysis AI software can be used on both the new quadrupole GC/MS, the JMS-Q1600GC UltraQuadTM, and the high-resolution time-of-flight (TOF) GC/MS instrument, the AccuTOFTM GC Alpha (shown). Both instruments have soft ionization options available. The new software will take advantage of the very high mass resolution and mass accuracy of the TOF mass spectrometer.
Improved LC error reduction
Waters debuted the Alliance iS, its latest high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) instrument. The Alliance iS is aimed at labs that require highly robust approaches to delivering on legacy analytical methods, like quality assurance and quality control labs. This latest version features touchscreen control, smart assets, technology like near-field communication to match columns with methods, tool-free fittings, and automated system pre-checks to improve productivity. It clearly declares the instrument status with color-coded responses indicating that a method is running, the instrument is available, or there is a problem.
Improved GC efficiency
PerkinElmer introduced the GC 2400 (shown), a new, more efficient gas chromatograph (GC). It offers smart capabilities, such as a detachable touchscreen that can operate multiple units, improved sampling capabilities, and easily visible color-coded status. One nice feature of the GC 2400 is an internal light on a flexible cord that allows for easy inspection of all parts of the oven. The GC is fully compatible with the SimplicityChromTM software and the ASTM 2400 liquid autosampler. The instrument can support up to three detectors plus a mass spectrometer. The new MS 2400 SQ allows for a small footprint GC/MS to help conserve bench space in the lab.
Combining FTIR and Raman
Shimadzu debuted the new AIRsights instrument (shown) that combines a microscope, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), and Raman spectroscopy in a single efficient system. Both spectroscopy techniques share the same optical path through the microscope, so both analyses can be accomplished without moving the sample with XYZ correction and lens switching. A single program controls all aspects of the instrument so that it is simple to switch between FTIR and Raman, allowing display of both the FTIR and Raman spectra. In Raman mode, the instrument is equipped with two lasers, 532 nm and 785 nm. The onboard, wide-view camera makes identifying the regions of interest easy with the ability to show large samples, up to 10 x 13 cm, and use digital zooming to observe areas as small as 30 x 40 um. 50x and 100x lenses are also available.
Expanding rheology capabilities
Waters TA Instruments showed new accessories to enhance the analyses completed on their Discovery Hybrid Rheometer (DHR). The first is the Auto-Trim. It greatly simplifies the process of loading a sample for melt rheology. It automatically conditions the polymer, adjusts the gap, and trims excess material in a completely hands-free approach. Another benefit of this accessory is that the oven remains closed for the entire cycle. No more opening the oven to manually trim the excess material. This accessory will significantly improve walk away time allowing polymer scientists to complete other work, rather than being tethered to the rheometer for melt experiment start up.
Also introduced was the Powder Rheology Accessory, which enables the DHR to analyze powders under controlled temperature conditions. This tool expands the applications of the DHR to provide quantitative results for dynamic flowability and shear properties of a wide range of important powder processing, dispensing, and storage challenges.
Improved knowledge management
LabVantage showed the latest version of their lab software platform, LabVantage 8.8, which contains elements of a LIMS, ELN, and SDMS. LabVantage 8.8 has new features which will be important for lab managers. Intelligent approvals enable a more efficient approach to approving large volumes of data through an AI driven, rules-based system. Automatic redo calculations prevent errors when calculations may be forgotten, like when a reference is changed. This will improve accuracy and quality further downstream in the process. The new version has improved cybersecurity with built-in safeguards from widely accepted approaches to cybersecurity threats. Improved accessibility by including compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, section 508. All of these improvements enable a more efficient and more secure approach to lab knowledge management.
New material science measurement
EasyXAFS is bringing x-ray technology to the lab traditionally reserved for complex materials at synchrotron facilities. They offer two instruments, x-ray emission spectroscopy (XES) and x-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS), both of which use advanced, hard x-ray technology to bring important new analyses to the lab. These instruments provide quantitative elemental and chemical state data on a wide range of important materials, such as batteries, catalysts, electronics, and other metal-rich products. Because of the energy range of the x-rays, they can often analyze samples, like a lithium-ion battery without opening the pouch, cell, or container.