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Polymer Factory's product manager co-authors paper on IM-MS calibration

In a scientific article published in May 2024, Polymer Factory’s product manager Jens Sommertune has gathered a group of international mass spectrometry and ion mobility scientists to perform a proof-of-concept and suitability study on the use of Polymer Factory’s compounds from the SpheriCal® platform to tune and calibrate Ion Mobility Mass Spectrometry (IM-MS) devices.

This emerging analysis technique allows for characterization and separation of molecules not only by their mass (mass to charge ratio, m/z), but also by introducing another dimension – the so-called collision cross section (CCS). This is of importance in, for example, biomedical research to assess the conformation of a peptide or protein.

As with any analytical tool, a limiting factor for accuracy and precision is good calibration. Today, this is done by using commercially available products that were originally designed and intended for the use in Electro Spray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (ESI-MS). This works, as most IM-MS instruments use ESI as ionization technique. However, in ESI-MS the only parameter measured is m/z - the “weight” of a molecule.

When performing IM-MS, the “size” of the molecule is relevant; here, the limitation of currently used standards becomes apparent – they are limited both in charge state (z) and size, whereas many analytes are both larger and higher charged in IM-MS than the current calibration solutions.

At Polymer Factory, we want to address this gap and are proud to share the positive outcomes:

  • Our SpheriCal® components ionize well with both ESI and MALDI as ionization source

  • The molecules generate several charge states that create a distribution in both m/z and CCS. The graph below shows detected charge states and the corresponding CCS values on to different IM-MS platforms (based on their current calibration standards)

  • Composed mixtures of 6 dendritic components were investigated on different IM-MS platforms from major brands (Bruker, Waters, Agilent) and known analytes were measured based on this new calibration on a Bruker timsTOF and a Waters Cyclic-IMS

  • The investigated components cover significantly higher CCS values and charge states and are able to close the calibration gap users experience today

  • Our dendritic components show sharp and symmetric peaks even at long drift times, where currently used components show peak broadening and shoulders due to conformational isomerism. Our dendrimers do not show this behavior which enables more accurate calibration. The graph below shows a SpheriCal® component in blue, as compared to a currently used component in grey.

Observe the differences in peak shape and peak width

This work has been peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. Find the full publication here.

We at Polymer Factory are proud to announce that we will soon release commercial products based on this scientific work.

On top of the technical benefits, we see that our products come with a set of advantages:

  • The products will be sold as solid – the end user can choose the solvent

  • The user will be able to choose from different calibration/tuning ranges, to fit the analyte in question

  • All components are fluorine free

  • The components are “non-sticky” in the ion source, i.e., not detectable for a longer time during the actual measurement


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