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Analytical Chemistry

Inside Instrumentation


by Celia M. Henry and Ann M. Thayer
May 9, 2005 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 83, Issue 19

Instrument, software companies partner

Proteome Systems will make its glycomIQ software for mass spectrometric analysis of protein-associated polysaccharides compatible with Agilent Technologies' XCT line of ion trap mass spectrometers. Similarly, PerkinElmer will offer Nonlinear Dynamics' entire line of proteomics software, including its ProMST MS bioinformatics package and its Progenesis image-analysis software for gel electrophoresis. Meanwhile, Waters will incorporate Matrix Science's Mascot MS data-based search engine into its protein informatics platform--ProteinLynx Global SERVER 2.2--for automated protein identification and characterization.

Varian offers new bio-NMR probes

Varian has developed two new probes for nuclear magnetic resonance studies of biological systems. The first is a cryogenically cooled probe that tolerates salty samples, such as plasma, urine, and other biological fluids. It offers 20% higher sensitivity than existing probes for samples that mimic physiological conditions and as much as 40% more at higher salt concentrations. The Salt Tolerant Cold Probe has been designed for use with 500- and 600-MHz NMR spectrometers. For solid-state studies of proteins and other biomolecules, Varian is offering an NMR probe incorporating a scroll coil design to reduce unwanted heating by three orders of magnitude compared with standard probes. Called Bio-MAS, the probe was developed with collaborators at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Microscope achieves sub-Å resolution

FEI has announced the titan 80-300 scanning/transmission electron microscope, which yields atomic-scale resolution of below 0.7 Å in TEM mode and just under 1 Å in STEM mode. The system is designed to allow upgrades with monochromators and aberration correctors, which further improve the resolution.

Improved mass specs introduced

Applied Biosystems and mds sciex have announced two new mass spectrometers developed through their joint venture. The 3200 Q TRAP, a hybrid triple-quadrupole linear ion trap, and the triple-quadrupole API 3200 LC/MS/MS systems incorporate SCIEX's Turbo V ion source. The 3200 Q TRAP system is more than twice as sensitive as its predecessor. The API 3200 LC/MS/MS offers better performance than earlier versions, especially at high flow rates. Meanwhile, Agilent Technologies has launched its LC/MSD Trap XCT Ultra. The new system's improved scan time allows it to collect spectra up to three times faster than its predecessors.

Better detection for elemental mass spec

Thermo Electron has introduced the Finnigan Element XR ICP mass spectrometer, which can detect analytes over a broader concentration range than previous systems. The instrument, which is used for elemental analysis, is targeted at the geological, environmental, clinical, and industrial markets. The system uses two different kinds of detectors to increase the dynamic range and features automatic selection of the detection mode. The increased dynamic range makes it unnecessary to use multiple instruments for elemental analyses over a wide concentration range.

Companies name new executives

Two small instrumentation companies have named new managers. Infinitesima--maker of the VideoAFM atomic force microscope that delivers images at video frame rates or 1,000 times faster than conventional AFMs--has appointed Jeff Lyons, 41, as CEO. Lyons has 19 years of technology industry experience, primarily in the semiconductor area. He is the first CEO of the company, a spin-off from the University of Bristol, in England. Meanwhile, Protiveris, a Rockville, Md.-based bionanotechnology company, has named Gregory Kellogg, 43, as its chief technology officer. Kellogg, a Ph.D. physicist, was formerly vice president of research at Network Biosystems. Protiveris develops biochips that use arrays of microcantilevers to detect biomolecular interactions.


Beckman Coulter will acquire Agencourt Bioscience, a provider of genomic services and nucleic acid purification products, for $100 million in cash. The deal includes another $40 million in payments through 2007 contingent on product development, revenue, and profit milestones. Agencourt, with revenues of $27 million in 2004, will become a Beckman subsidiary and retain its management team and approximately 100 employees. The two companies will also spin off a separate company, Agencourt Personal Genomics, to accelerate the development of a "sequencing by synthesis" approach to personal-genome sequencing. Separately, ESA Biosciences has acquired Richard Scientific, a distributor of specialty liquid chromatography products to the pharmaceutical, biotech, and academic research markets. Richard Devereaux, founder of Richard Scientific, will join ESA as manager of sales for the West Coast and Latin America. ESA will keep the Novato, Calif., facility open and retain the company's technical staff.

Inside Instrumentation is written by Celia M. Henry and Ann M. Thayer. Contact them via e-mail to




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