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The world's leading PTR-MS company

Providing ultra-sensitive solutions for real-time trace gas analysis since 1998


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Pittcon 2017

6.- 9. March 2017, Chicago, booth #1622

The world’s largest exposition on laboratory science: visit our booth and experience PTR-TOFMS! Real-time ultra-trace VOC analysis from the world market leader.

Visit us at Pittcon 2017

This global exposition gives you the opportunity to get a hands-on look at the latest laboratory instrumentation, participate in live demos and product seminars, talk with technical experts, and find solutions to all your laboratory challenges.

We'll be part of the exhibition and the scientific conference program. Join us at our booth #1622 and experience a live demonstration of our new PTR-TOF 4000 high-resolution trace VOC analyzer!

Who we are and what we do

We develop and manufacture ultra-sensitive real-time trace gas analyzers using the unique Proton Transfer Reaction – Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) and related technologies. 
We also produce trace calibration devices for analytical instruments, construct industrial process monitoring solutions, custom time-of-flight mass spectrometers and offer analytical services.
Over 300 leading scientists, institutions and multinational corporations are among IONICON’s customers.

Discover PTR-MS and its advantages

Learn how our technology works and why it is the best solution for real-time quantitative trace gas analysis. Understand how market-leading ppqv-level online detection limits are possible and how to get quantitative results in real-time without sample preparation. 
Contact us!

Expo Live Demo

We'll engage with you in our 15-20 minutes pre-scheduled interactive live demo. Come and join us when we demonstrate real-time VOC analysis from ambient air and breath sampling. Seating is limited, so be there early!

"The Air We Breathe In & Out at Pittcon"

Thursday March 9, 2017. 10:00 am, demo area 1 (booth #2931)

Would you like to find out what's in the air you breathe in at the show floor or breathe into our instrument and find out which volatile metabolites you exhale? We analyze the air in real-time and visualize trace concentrations of organic compounds for you!
The IONICON PTR-MS systems are ultra-sensitive mass spectrometers for the real-time analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Our instruments are used all over the world in environmental research, atmospheric chemistry and biology, in food, flavor and aroma science, in breath gas air analysis, in room air and exhaust emission monitoring and in many other applications.

Scientific Presentations


Online Monitoring and Diagnostics of In Vitro Processes for Production of Pharmaceuticals

Date: Monday, March 6th, 2017. Time: 03:35 PM. Room: W179a
Session: Cellular Respiration (Breath-Based) Metabolomics: In Vitro Links to Living Systems for Toxicology, Food Safety, Infection, Pharmaceutical Production and Metabolism Diagnostics.

Breath-based metabolomics, the analysis of volatile metabolites in breath, promises a non-invasive window into the body to detect metabolic disorders, diseases etc. However, our own metabolism is not the only source of exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While the impact of exogenous compounds, inhaled or ingested, is actively researched, there is less known on the contribution of our complex bacterial ecosystem, which could even be the stronger source. We demonstrate the complexity of bacterial emissions, by observing a biologically simple system.
In a biopharmaceutical fermenter genetically modified bacteria produce modern drugs. With one genetically defined strain, under precisely controlled environmental conditions, these systems are biologically as simplified as possible. The aeration flow providing oxygen, takes up volatile metabolic byproducts. This allows monitoring volatile emissions by analyzing the offgas using a Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass-Spectrometer (PTR-MS) – a highly sensitive, online monitor for VOCs.
In this simple system we find more than 70 different VOCs with distinct variation over the course of a fermentation, and their interpretation is complex. A direct correlation to specific metabolic activity is only possible for a few VOCs. We show that such direct correlations are only possible for metabolites with low solubility. As a solution, we introduce a mathematical model to calculate the relevant metabolic production rate, independent of the solubility, from the dynamically measured offgas concentration. From these findings we can draw important conclusions for both, monitoring and control of pharmaceutical fermentations, as well as the interpretation of bacterial contributions to human breath.


Real-Time VOC Analysis of Manuka Honey Using PTR-TOFMS

Date: Tuesday, March 7th, 2017; Poster No. 1430-09; afternoon
Session: Food Science
In light of an increasing antibiotic resistance worldwide, there is a newly awakened interest in the effect of honey on antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The antimicrobial properties of honey for the treatment of wound infections have been known since ancient times. Especially Manuka honey, derived from the Manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium) endemic to New Zealand, is well-known for high levels of methylglyoxal (MGO), an antimicrobial active compound. In this study we analyze volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the head-space above Manuka honey and several kinds of common honey, in order to determine MGO levels and differences in composition between the samples. A Proton-Transfer-Reaction Time-Of-Flight Mass-Spectrometer (PTR-TOFMS) provides a comprehensive analysis of the VOC headspace profile within seconds. In this study we employ a novel type, a PTR-QiTOF, which is equipped with a Quadrupole ion guide (Qi) to transfer the ions more efficiently from the PTR ionization to the TOF mass analyzer. This increases the instrument’s sensitivity by orders of magnitude compared to a conventional setup. We analyze MGO in the headspace of different Manuka honey samples (30, 100, 250, 400 and 550 mg MGO/kg). The figure below shows excellent correlation between the MGO content stated by the manufacturer and the measured MGO signal from the headspace analysis. In addition, we compare VOC profiles of Manuka and several other honeys. The possibility to assess Manuka honey quality by a fast headspace analysis exemplifies the potential of high sensitivity PTR-TOFMS for the rapid analysis of complex samples in food and flavor research.

Real-Time Quantification of Impurities in Food-Grade CO2 with PTR-MS

Date: Tuesday, March 7th, 2017; Poster No. 1430-10; afternoon
Session: Food Science
Food-grade carbon dioxide has numerous applications in the food and beverage industry. It is used for carbonation of drinks, to draw beverages, as a packaging gas, for cooling, etc. In this study we investigate volatile organic impurities in a cylinder of food-grade certified (European standard E 290) CO2 using Proton-Transfer-Reaction – Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS). PTR-MS is a well-established technique for direct injection, online quantification in many fields of application (environmental research, food and flavor science, industrial monitoring, etc.). We use soft, chemical ionization by proton transfer from H3O+ coupled with a Time-Of-Flight mass spectrometer (PTR-TOF), which enables the detection and quantification of most organic compounds. We analyzed gas from the CO2 cylinder unfiltered and filtered by a charcoal filter and compared the resulting high-resolution mass-spectra. Most of the detected organic impurities had mass-to-charge ratios (m/z) above 150 Th and concentrations between 100 pptv and 10 ppbv. Analyzing the concentration vs. time profiles of the impurities (see figure) we found distinct concentration variations for different compounds. After opening of the CO2 cylinder valve only one compound at m/z 69.034 quickly reaches a constant concentration, whereas other compounds reach their concentration maxima at different times. These differences can be attributed to their individual vapor pressure and the outgassing dynamics from the liquid CO2 inside the cylinder and highlight the additional information provided by real-time analysis. Consequently, the time between opening the CO2 cylinder and introduction of the gas into food can have an influence on the level of impurities in the final product.