News and updates from the PTR-MS community


Posts Tagged ‘atmospheric chemistry’

PTR-TOF technology contributes to CLOUD experiment at CERN

New results have been published by the CLOUD team in the prestigious journal „Nature“.

The CLOUD experiment at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) reports a major advance towards solving a long-standing enigma in climate science: how do aerosols – tiny solid or liquid particles suspended in the air – form in the atmosphere, and which gases are responsible? This is a key question in understanding the climate, since aerosols cause a cooling effect by reflecting sunlight and by seeding cloud droplets.

Researchers found out that minute concentrations of amine vapours combine with sulphuric acid to form aerosol particles at rates similar to those observed in the atmosphere. Amines are emitted both from human activities such as animal husbandry, and from natural sources.

The PTR-TOF-MS technology was used to monitor the CLOUD aerosol-chamber by Prof. Armin Hansel and his team, Institute for Ion Physics and Applied Physics of the University of Innsbruck.


Innovative IONICON PTR-TOF-MS technology deployed on NASA atmospheric research aircraft

Researchers on a mission for NASA use newly developed real-time trace gas analyzer from IONICON to measure air pollution in the atmosphere.

What is the quality of the air we breathe? NASA is trying to answer this question using satellite-based Earth observations. By the end of the century, satellite data shall be used for monitoring and predicting air quality, much the same as now for weather forecasting. To understand how air pollutants are distributed within the Earth’s atmosphere, NASA makes use of a new compact proton transfer reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTR-TOF-MS) which we specially developed for NASA deployment.

DISCOVER-AQ observation strategy; courtesy and (c) Armin Wisthaler

The innovative lightweight PTR-TOF-MS delivered data with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution measuring smallest concentrations of volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere. The instrument was deployed for the first time onboard the NASA P-3B research aircraft during the DISCOVER-AQ mission in January and February 2013 to study air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley in California.


IONICON is a proud sponsor of Gordon Research Conferences

We support young researchers at two GRCs in 2012

The Gordon Research Conferences provide an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, and their related technologies.

Two GRCs closely related to our own scientific research and PTR-MS are now supported by IONICON in order to give young researchers the opportunity to present their work to the scientific community.

These days the GRC for Plant Volatiles takes place in Ventura, CA, January 29 – February 3, 2012 and has as topics: Ecology, Biosynthesis, Regulation and Animal Perception of Floral and Vegetative Volatiles, Plus their Roles in Human Flavor and Agriculture.


Innsbrucker Forscher und PTR-MS waren Teil der NASA Mission DISCOVER-AQ

PTR-MS hilft dabei neue Erkenntnisse über die Schadstoffverteilung in der Atmosphäre zu gewinnen.

Armin Wisthaler und Tomas Mikoviny von der Universität Innsbruck sind das einzige ausländische Forscher-Team, das auf Einladung der NASA an 14 Messflügen mit ihrem PTR-MS Instrument teilgenommen hat.

Detaillierte Kenntnisse über die Verteilung und den Transport von Luftschadstoffen in der Atmosphäre können zuverlässig nur durch Messungen aus Luft gewonnen werden, weshalb die beiden Forscher im NASA Messflugzeug P-3B über dem Großraum Washington-Baltimore unterwegs waren. Mit ihrem Protonentausch-Reaktions Massenspektrometer (PTR-MS) wurden die Konzentration von verschiedenen Kohlenwasserstoffen ermittelt, die an der Bildung von Ozon und Feinstaub beteiligt sind. „Wir haben bereits vor drei Jahren mit dem PTR-MS an einer NASA-Kampagne sehr erfolgreich teilgenommen, weshalb man uns auch zu DISCOVER-AQ wieder eingeladen hat“, erzählt Wisthaler. „Da das Flugzeug etwa 100 Meter pro Sekunde zurücklegt, sind schnelle Messungen, wie sie das PTR-MS durchführen kann, unabdingbar“, ergänzt er. Während des Fluges wird über einen Einlass Luft eingesaugt und das PTR-MS ermittelt in Sekundenschnelle die Konzentration von Kohlenwasserstoffen.


First results of CERN’s CLOUD experiment now published in NATURE journal

PTR-MS technology made in Austria contributes to important results of the CLOUD experiments at CERN.

The CLOUD experiment has been designed to study the effect of cosmic rays on the formation of atmospheric aerosols – tiny liquid or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere – under controlled laboratory conditions. Atmospheric aerosols are thought to be responsible for a large fraction of the seeds that form cloud droplets.

The CLOUD results show that trace vapors assumed until now to account for aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can explain only a tiny fraction of the observed atmospheric aerosol production. The results also show that ionization from cosmic rays significantly enhances aerosol formation. Precise measurements such as these are important in achieving a quantitative understanding of cloud formation, an important contribution to climate models.

The prestigious NATURE journal has now published first results from the CLOUD experiment, where two PTR-MS instruments from the Institute for Ion Physics and Applied Physics of the University of Innsbruck contributed to this cutting edge project. A quadrupole based PTR-MS was used to monitor trace concentrations of Ammonia and a PTR-TOF-MS system (based on time of flight technology) continuously scanned organic vapor concentrations in the CLOUD chamber.


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:


Ultra-sensitive and fast detection of BVOC emissions with IONICON PTR-TOF

Detection of Plant Volatiles after Leaf Wounding and Darkening by Proton Transfer Reaction ‘‘Time-of-Flight’’ Mass Spectrometry (PTR-TOF)

A new study published yesterday, where IONICON PTR-TOFMS was used to detect biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) induced by leaf wounding and darkening, shows the huge potential of PTR-MS for monitoring and quantification of  fast processes in our environment. Leaf wounding reactions where BVOCs are emitted occur very fast and therefore a method is necessary that can capture the BVOC profiles in seconds. A very high time resolution and sensitivity in combination with the high mass resolving power of a time of flight makes the PTR-TOFMS technology an ideal tool for such applications. PTR-MS can detect most of the common VOCs in real-time, in very low concentrations and without complicated sample preparation as our online mass spectrometers directly inject the sample gas and provide results without delay.

The study is an outcome of the Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnership and Pathways (IAPP) project 218065 ‘‘PTR-TOF’’ funded by theEuropean Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 – People), where IONICON is one of the partners.

Get free access to this article:

F. Brilli, T. M. Ruuskanen, R. Schnitzhofer, M. Müller, M. Breitenlechner, V. Bittner, G. Wohlfahrt, F. Loreto, A. Hansel: Detection of Plant Volatiles after Leaf Wounding and Darkening by Proton Transfer Reaction ‘‘Time-of-Flight’’ Mass Spectrometry (PTR-TOF), PLoS ONE, 6(5) (2011), e20419.

Read the abstract: