LC-MS Arrival: We Have an LC-MS!

Martin Perkins

21st October 2019

Automation, Gas Chromatography, GC-MS, LC-MS, Liquid Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry, Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry, SIFT-MS, Training Course,

We’ve long been pretty widely referred to as ‘those plucky, excellent-looking bunch of scientists who stick autosamplers on the front of GC-MSs’1. Not an unwarranted perception considering GC was where Ray came from (and, as it turns out was apparently rubbish at) but nevertheless, one we’re keen to dispel.

It’s what we knew and became known for. It’s fairly standard practice to pick a niche and service it exceptionally if you’re a small business. Never half-arse lots of things. Whole arse a few things. So goes the saying (I’m pretty sure that’s a real saying).

Developing, supplying and supporting a solution has always been at the core of our business. Doing that properly relies on having that working kit in the lab. It’s meant having to say no to quite a lot of things over the years but it’s important and it’s an approach that has served us well.

However, over the last few years as we’ve grown, so too has the diversity of our expertise. We’ve grown our resource and expanded what we can contribute to the separation sciences. Most notable of these is SIFT-MS and automated SIFT-MS.

Shameless plug for our training course in December.

Ultimately, we need to be confident that the kit we supply and support cuts the mustard in our lab before it gets anywhere near our customers.

Now we can do so with LC-MS with the recent arrival of Daisy the Agilent 1260 LC coupled to ESI Jet Stream 6470 QQQ.

So what do we intend to do with it? Is this some kind of attempt to change our image as the autosampler guys into something entirely different? Like a university fresher who decides to start dressing like a punk but won’t shave their head into a proper Mohawk?

Nah, we’ll probably stick an autosampler on it. Originality doesn’t always come easy. Getting an LC-MS is us getting a pair of Dr Martens and pairing it with a lab coat. Slightly harder to pigeon hole but still fundamentally the same person.

Automated LC-MS is an exciting prospect for us because it’s a different beast with different obstacles to find and get over.

As analytical challenges continue to become more and more overwhelming, the answers we’re trying to reach are becoming more complex and require more and more human input from experienced analysts. Even with the comparatively high speeds of analysis offered by LC-MS, we intend on helping to free up more time for data evaluation and interpretation. Someone recently said it’s a bit like programming all the nuanced experiences and muscle memories of a PhD level scientists into a robot which would take years to teach a human. Like a reverse of that scene in The Matrix.

Are we completely wide of the mark?

We won’t be able to do any of this alone. We need your input to help guide our early work in this field.

  • What are the problems you face in LC-MS?
  • How do you think automation might help solve it? Indeed can it even hope to?
  • Where do you see the limitations of automated sample prep for LC-MS?
  • Are ‘faux hawks’ an acceptable haircut for the punk scene?
  • Is it even safe to wear Dr Martens in a lab?
  • Is it actually common to see Dr Martens paired with a lab coat in the trendier parts of Berlin?

Answers on a postcard or to