In my last blog post, “Looking for Certainty,” I took a closer look at the importance of data certainty and how it’s critical to all applications, but especially in contaminant testing. The importance of being accurate, with speed, is also essential to research scientists in both academic or industrial environments. Like quantitative contaminant testing, it’s a “must-have” to secure the capability to confidently make compound identifications and discoveries. The research projects that identify a new or emerging contaminant today, are then transferred to targeted methods to ensure either our food, water or wider environment is safe tomorrow. Gas chromatography with Orbitrap mass spectrometry is all part of that capability and is a powerful tool in the analyst’s bag. For me, it’s a technology that has brought immense satisfaction as I have witnessed first-hand its impact on scientific understanding from breath biopsy, metabolomics, extractables and leachable testing and food authenticity. I recall my first experience of the Q Exactive GC-MS/MS as a Thermo Fisher Scientific Applications Scientist back in 2015. Having turned on the system and seeing that I could operate at a maximum resolving power of 120,000 (FWHM at m/z 200) and not have to sacrifice sensitivity was awesome. I knew that this would make a real difference. Whatever your analytical question, be it, what’s different? What’s in my sample? What’s the concentration? What’s this unknown peak? You need that perfect combination of high selectivity and sensitivity to cut through the background and deliver crystal clear chromatographic peaks.
For research, having high-quality data is essential, but just as important is having intelligent software to process the data and deliver easily navigable results. The recent inclusion of the electron ionisation (EI) and positive chemical ionization (PCI) nodes in Thermo Scientific Compound Discoverer have made that a reality for analysts who have access to GC high-resolution accurate mass (HRAM) data. The capability to perform peak deconvolution, statistical comparisons and spectral matching with commercially available libraries really does speed up time-to-result and turn data into scientific understanding.
But we do not standstill. Advancements in analytical capability are always moving forward. In 2021, we look forward to welcoming the next generation of GC HRAM systems and I invite you to discover more at the virtual event on 2nd March 2021. Hear from leading scientists and industry experts on how they have been deploying GC Orbitrap in their laboratories. I look forward to seeing you there.