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16 June, 2014 - 09:59 By News Desk

Owlstone chip streets ahead in Baltimore


Cambridge UK chemical sensor pioneer Owlstone has launched a suite of next generation technology to boost life science research at a major instrumentation expo in Baltimore.

Researchers who have been trialling the Owlstone accessory for mass spectrometers have praised its potential in simplifying previously complex areas of analysis.

It is expected that the technology breakthrough will enhance analysis of small molecules, peptides and proteins.

Owlstone's revolutionary, dime-sized chip is at the heart of the new UltraFAIMS ion filter module.

Professor Colin Creaser, head of the Centre for Analytical Science at Loughborough University, whose group has been working with a pre-production instrument, said: “Owlstone’s chip-based FAIMS system is very straightforward to use and has demonstrated potential for the analysis of small molecules, peptides and proteins.

“We are particularly excited about its ability to enhance high-throughput mass spectrometry applications by separating target ion responses from isobaric and isomeric ions.”

Owlstone co-founder Billy Boyle said the low-cost accessory provides an additional dimension of high-speed separation by ion mobility.

UltraFAIMS is a miniaturised chip-based FAIMS (Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry) platform technology developed by Owlstone. UltraFAIMS can be interfaced with mass spectrometers to provide an additional in-source separation stage for isobaric analytes, protein and peptide charge states, large and small proteins, isomers and conformers.

Miniaturising the chip has allowed Owlstone to generate much higher field strengths than have been available in FAIMS systems up to now. This means that a greater range of analytes can be separated, at faster speeds, without compromising the system sensitivity.

The new ion filters can be retrofitted onto mass spectrometers. Once installed, UltraFAIMS can be turned on to provide extra separation, or turned off to allow transmission of all species simultaneously – there is no need to remove it from the system when not in use.

Boyle said the technology's small size and straightforward interface meant it could easily be added to an established laboratory setup.

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