At Lunch With Industry Execs
Apr01

At Lunch With Industry Execs

C&EN’s Review of Pittcon 2010 begins on page 27. Complementing the coverage, I report here excerpts of the discussion during a luncheon organized by C&EN’s Sales & Marketing group. The analytical challenges of the 21st century are myriad and complex, but the world can be confident that they will be met as the instrumentation/analytics community continues to advance the field. That is the gist of the luncheon presentations by Gregory J. Herrema, senior vice president and president of analytical instruments at Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Frank Witney, president and chief executive officer of Dionex. In recent years, “routine analysis has become anything but routine,” Herrema said. “Sample complexity has increased, and regulation is progressively demanding more useful information from each sample at lower levels of detection,” he explained. “Analytical performance that at one time was thought only necessary for high-end research applications is now becoming a basic requirement for many routine applications.” Witney framed the discussion from the angle of water. A major challenge with water analysis, which makes up 45% of Dionex’ sales, is the broad range of compounds that need to be measured, from inorganic ions to polyaromatic hydrocarbons, Witney said. And because most compounds are present in trace amounts, “we often have to find a needle in a haystack,” he continued. Another challenge is regulatory approval. “We’re dealing with regulatory agencies that are in different countries and have different requirements,” Witney said. “It can take several years to have a new technology and application approved by a particular regulatory agency.” Dionex keeps its fingers on the pulse of water’s analytical and regulatory challenges by working with regulatory agencies, Witney said. That the company has people on environmental regulation teams throughout the world, he explained, facilitates validation of methods in various jurisdictions. Meanwhile, global trends are making water an even more critical resource. “Population increases and global warming are some of the reasons that water resources are becoming more scarce,” Witney said. The human impact on water quality is also expanding, he added. Concern is growing over so-called emerging contaminants from human activity such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products that survive treatment plants and end up in the environment. These trends can only mean an increasing need for new methods and instruments for water analysis. Other global trends are driving the need for new methods and instruments for many other types of analyses, Herrema noted. “We continue to see the impact of new regulatory requirements in health care reform across the world, with the insatiable demand for improved, less invasive testing technologies and point-of-care service capabilities,” he said. “Transportation security agencies around the world continue to...

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First Impressions At Pittcon – Final Edition
Mar05

First Impressions At Pittcon – Final Edition

I don’t have the time to fully understand zeta potential, so of course I go to Wikipedia, according to which: “Zeta potential is an abbreviation for electrokinetic potential in colloidal systems. In the colloidal chemistry literature, it is usually denoted using the Greek letter zeta, hence ζ-potential. From a theoretical viewpoint, zeta potential is electric potential in the interfacial double layer (DL) at the location of the slipping plane versus a point in the bulk fluid away from the interface. In other words, zeta potential is the potential difference between the dispersion medium and the stationary layer of fluid attached to the dispersed particle.” Okay, that makes my head ache. And thank goodness, Steven Trainoff, director of engineering at Wyatt Technology assures me that even if I don’t exactly know what zeta potential is, I could still appreciate the importance of an instrument they are introducing at Pittcon 2010, the Möbiuζ, which Wyatt claims can more precisely and easily measure the electrophoretic mobility of proteins than other methods. Accurate measurement of protein electrophoretic mobility—which is related to the zeta potential—is especially important in formulating protein drugs. That’s because protein drugs must be charged in a formulation. The charge must be high enough to ensure that proteins are stable—individual molecules repel each other—but not so high that not enough molecules can be crammed in the formulation. It’s therefore critical to know the charge on the molecule, which can be inferred from the electrophoretic mobility. Now, many instruments out there can measure electrophoretic mobility, Trainoff says, but they are not good with small proteins, such as the 14.4-kilodalton lysozyme, in the high concentration that they exist in a formulation. That’s because as proteins become smaller, the noise from diffusion becomes too much. Wyatt’s new optical instrument solves this problem by using an array of 30 photodiode detectors instead of the usual single detector. The massively parallel detection system means faster detection and higher sensitivity than is possible with other instruments. For example, Wyatt’s Möbiu? can determine the electrophoretic mobility of a 1-mg/mL sample of immunoglobulin G in about 30 seconds. Watch out for the March 29 issue for C&EN’s official coverage of Pittcon 2010. Senior Correspondent Stu Borman will summarize the highlights and trends, Senior Correspondent Steve Ritter will compile the most noteworthy instruments on display, and Senior Editors Celia Henry and Mitch Jacoby will report from the technical...

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First Impressions At Pittcon – Part 4
Mar04

First Impressions At Pittcon – Part 4

I had back-to-back meetings with 10 companies while at Pittcon; some of them I've mentioned in earlier posts. The one that left a deep impression is Anasazi, a maker of 60- and 90-MHz FT-NMR instruments that sells 90% of its products to the education market: community colleges, 4-year colleges, and even high schools. I completed my chemistry education without ever seeing, let alone using, an NMR instrument, and I'm so excited that high school and college students can actually use, touch, and manipulate the machine instead of just learning how to read and interpret the spectra, thanks to affordable and low-maintenance products such as those from Anasazi. Don Bouchard, president of Anasazi, tells me that Anasazi FT-NMRs are ideal for the education market because they do not use superconducting magnets that need gases and cryogenic conditions to operate. The company does have a few industry customers, he says, for applications that can be optimally executed with the 60- and 90-MHz instruments. The difference in price, according to Don, is significant: about $100,000 for an Anasazi instrument, including a five-year warranty vs about $225,000 + $15-30,000/per year in maintenance costs for a 400-MHz spectrometer with a superconducting magnet. Anasazi NMR spectrometers are installed at three U.S. high schools and many colleges, including at least 20 community colleges in California, Don says. Although Anasazi's primary customers are from academia, Don and his wife, Julie, are at Pittcon in hopes of attracting customers from industry and government labs. Those of you chemistry teachers with some Department of Education Title III money might want to talk to...

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First Impressions Of Pittcon–Part 3
Mar02

First Impressions Of Pittcon–Part 3

C&EN's full coverage of Pittcon 2010 will appear in the March 29 issue. In that issue, C&EN reporters Celia Arnaud, Stu Borman, Mitch Jacoby, and Steve Ritter will synthesize the four-day scientific and exhibition fest on instrumentation/analytics in highlights of product introductions, technical sessions, and industry trends. Their stories will be C&EN's definitive take on Pittcon. What I am posting are my mere musings. We just finished from the first ever C&EN luncheon at Pittcon, attended by 100 guests. Not a bad crowd, considering that Tuesday is the second day of the exhibition. Our luncheon guest speakers were Frank Witney, president and CEO of Dionex, and Greg Herrema, senior vice president and president of analytical instruments at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Both made a strong case of the complexity of analytical challenges in the 21st century, as well as the ability of the instrumentation/analytics to develop new methods and tools to meet these challenges. So far so good. At Q&A period, though, not one person in the audience asked a question. What's with that? Are people too busy, shy, wary to participate? Any ideas about how to encourage discussion during a luncheon? Altogether, the luncheon was fine. As moderator, I asked a question with several follow ups that I think the speakers and the audience appreciated. I'm still figuring out zeta potential, but I have to catch my flight back to Washington, DC now. Photo credit (both): Peter Cutts...

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First Impressions at Pittcon—Part 2
Mar02

First Impressions at Pittcon—Part 2

As I said yesterday, what Frank O’Connor of Heidolph Brinkmann is really excited about is Demo for Donations, which the company will implement at the ACS national meeting in San Francisco on March 21-25. According to O’Connor, Demo for Donations works like this: Meeting attendees sign up for a product demonstration at Heidolph’s booth, #1110, and Heidolph will contribute $10 per sign up to the Red Cross earthquake relief fund for Haiti. Instead of mints, ballpens, or any of the usual freebie trinkets at exhibitions to get people to stop at their booth, Heidolph believes that Demo for Donations will attract more traffic because, as O’Connor’s explains, it offers attendees “a way to give something back to the community.” I warned O’Connor that the San Francisco might attract more than 12,000 people, and Heidolph could be deluged with sign ups. O’Connor’s expectations are conservative, about 1,500. Well, ACS national meeting attendees, perhaps you can help O’Connor exceed expectations. Again the place to do something good for Haiti in San Francisco is booth #1110. From Heidolph, I next visited Wyatt Technologies. They’re excited about a new instrument that measures something related to zeta potential and has a key application in protein drug formulation. I’ll tell more about this advance in Part 3. Right now I have to understand what zeta potential is. Can anyone...

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