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PTR-MS compared to SIFT-MS, APCI and MS-e-noses

A new review article in Trends in Analytical Chemistry discusses direct-injection mass spectrometry for VOC analysis.

F. Biasioli, C. Yeretzian, T. D. Märk, J. Dewulf and H. Van Langenhove wrote an interesting review with the title “Direct-injection mass spectrometry adds the time dimension to (B)VOC analysis” that was recently published in Trends in Analytical Chemistry 30 (7) (2011).

We at IONICON are often asked what actually the differences and in our case, the benefits of the PTR-MS technology compared to other, similar methods are. Not only a technical comparison is of interest but also feedback from studies in the field covering various applications is in high demand by people contacting us.

For me the advantages of PTR-MS are obvious and I also know which position our technology and products have in the market, but of course it is more credible if an article in a peer-reviewed journal has such a comparison as topic and gives the reader a chance to follow a well grounded debate.
The synopsis of this article with regards to PTR-MS and my conclusion, I would summarize as follows only mentioning the most intriguing arguments:

  • PTR-MS is generally much more sensitive than SIFT-MS (according to the authors around two orders of magnitude).
  • The “downside” of PTR-MS, providing only one type of precursor ions (H3O+, the most important type though) has been overcome by a technology we call Switchable Reagent Ions (SRI), where H3O+, NO+ and O2+ can be produced in the IONICON ion source with even higher yields than SIFT-MS.
  • Compared to APCI, a widely used technology, PTR-MS allows for more accurate quantification due to a controlled and very efficient ionization, offering higher sensitivity.
  • PTR-MS is extremely versatile, used in various applications and is commercially available as IONICON’s product portfolio: ultra-sensitive quadrupole or high-resolution time-of-flight based systems.

I am of course emphasizing on the benefits of PTR-MS, but there actually are many advantages and this is the reason for our existence.

I take the paper for a very well balanced and fair review of the above mentioned, sometimes competing technologies and I am glad this is now available to the public. I can only recommend to read this article and the cited references!
If you have questions, are interested in IONICON PTR-MS or would like to discuss your opinion with me, please just let me know!