Advanced mass spectrometer comes to the CNSI Nano and Pico Characterization Lab

Instrument offers users capabilities not available elsewhere at UCLA

by Wayne Lewis

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PerkinElmer’s NexION® 2000 is a versatile ICP-MS instrument, featuring an array of unique technologies that combine to deliver the highest performance no matter what your analytical challenge. The instrument can handle any sample matrix, any interference, and any particle size.

A resource new to UCLA’s Nano and Pico Characterization Laboratory (NPC) will offer researchers the opportunity to interrogate the physical and chemical properties of materials down to the nanoscale and beyond.

The NPC, a Technology Center of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, recently added the PerkinElmer NexION 2000, an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) previously housed in the UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology. The ICP-MS technique is faster, more precise and more sensitive than other approaches to mass spectrometry. In combination with a Titan MPS microwave sample preparation system, this technology is useful for capturing data about purity, dissolution rates, isotopic ratios, cellular uptake and biodistribution in a wide array of samples, including food, drugs, water, semiconductors and batteries.

With this addition to the NPC’s resources, users gain access to a powerful new suite of tools for analytical analysis including sample preparation, data acquisition and data reporting with the support of highly trained professional staff. Currently, the NexION 2000 in the NPC is the only open-access instrument on the UCLA campus that provides elemental analysis to users.

For the research team led by Veena Sangkhae, adjunct assistant professor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, the NexION 2000 was crucial in tracing iron distribution in pregnant mice without the need to expose them to radiation.

“We were able to distinguish three different iron isotopes, enabling us to determine uptake and regulation of different iron species concurrently,” Sangkhae said. “The NPC staff is knowledgeable and the turnaround time is excellent. We’ve published two manuscripts so far with the data we generated.”

The NexION 2000 ensures the accuracy of data by removing interference, thanks to its three quadrupoles, three gas channels and three detection modes. With the ability to acquire 100,000 data points per second and continuous reading and replication, the system works fast and can acquire accurate data with low detection limits. Moreover, the ICP-MS provides both qualitative readout of the elements present in a sample as well as quantitative readout of chemical concentration.

“It’s the dawn of a new day in the NPC as we move beyond our history as a facility focused on scanning probe microscopies. This exciting addition pushes our capabilities in new directions and opens up new possibilities for the research community here at CNSI. “ says Adam Stieg, CNSI associate director and NPC director.

The instrument joins a cache of surface analysis tools at the NPC including the recently added Malvern Panalytical Zetasizer Nano ZS and the Anton Paar SurPASS, which perform dynamic light scattering and zeta potential measurements. These techniques allow users to assess nanomaterials and systems dispersed in buffers, biological media or organic fluids and gain an understanding of the interface between liquid and particulate matter. Users can employ the instruments to characterize such properties as hydrodynamic diameter, size distribution, surface charge and agglomeration kinetics of micro- and nanoscale materials.

For more about the NexION 2000, the Zetasizer or the SurPASS, visit the NPC website. Those seeking project consultation, proof of concept, training or other assistance should contact the Technology Center’s team at npc@cnsi.ucla.edu.