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X-Ray technologies earn gold at Pittcon: two new technologies introduced by Bruker AXS bring the power of x-rays to the benchtop.

The 59th Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) was held March 1--March 7 in New Orleans, La. New technologies were showcased by the 1,110 companies on the exhibition floor. Over the past 10 years, about 200 of the editors in attendace at Pittcon have selected the best examples of innovative and creative instruments from the exhibit. This year, the editors were especially impressed by two instruments which bring x-ray technology to the benchtop: the Smart X2S and the S2 Picofox, both from Bruker AXS, Madison, Wisc., which won the Gold and Broze Editors' Choice Awards, respectively.

Crystal-to-structure on the benchtop

The Gold award went to Bruker AXS's compact and affordable Smart X2S (Crystal-to-Structure), the first benchtop x-ray crystallography system for fully automated 3-D chemical structure determination. It is designed for use by chemists who have no special training in crystallography, and it is expected to appeal to many inorganic and organic chemists at colleges and universities, as well as in bio-pharma and chemical companies.


Traditional x-ray systems for 3-D structure determination are floor-standing, require significant infrastructure, and typically are installed in specialist x-ray crystallography centers. While molecular structure information is of tremendous benefit for chemists, the traditional need for trained crystallographers has made access to structural information inconvenient or expensive for many working chemists. Often they need to send samples away to an off-site crystallography service laboratory and wait days for the results, or they simply forego structural confirmation at certain stages of their research.

The Smart X2S allows inorganic and organic chemists to produce atomic resolution, 3-D structures of routine samples in their own laboratories quickly and easily. It automates the previously difficult aspects of x-ray structure determination, from sample loading and alignment through data collection all the way to the mathematical structure solution.

Weighing less than 70 kg and requiring only 0.5 kW of standard single-phase AC power, the benchtop Smart X2S can be installed easily in any academic or industrial chemistry laboratory. It is intended to be operated by chemists without the requirement for expert crystallographic training and is suitable for a wide range of inorganic, organic, and organometallic crystals.

"It has long been a dream to automate the process of x-ray small molecule structure determination, so that it can become a powerful, yet routine analytical tool in the hands of most chemists," states Charles Campana, senior scientist for structural chemistry at Bruker AXS. "Now, advances in technology, automation, and algorithms have finally made this possible. The Smart X2S system allows chemists to do routine, publication-quality crystal structures in only a few hours without specialized crystallography expertise."

Portable elemental analysis

The S2 Picofox, a new portable ultra-sensitive benchtop total x-ray fluorescence (TXRF) system to quantify elemental concentrations from 0.1 ppb to % levels won the Bronze Editors' Choice Award. TXRF previously was limited to floor-standing, large lab systems for semiconductor and coatings metrology.

The S2 Picofox was made for the analytical laboratory and for field use, thus enabling TXRF ultra-high sensitivity elemental analysis in clinical, nutritional, environmental, and mining applications for the first time. It offers zero-wait sample prep that does not require time-consuming digestion by hazardous chemicals. It is suitable for almost all sample types such as liquids, suspensions, filters, particles, and body fluids.

The system is equipped with a 30-[mm.sup.2] XFlash detector, making use of Bruker's silicon drift detector (SDD) technology with superb energy resolution and excellent resolution stability at count rates of over 100,000 counts/sec. Operating without any external gases, water cooling, or any other media, the S2 Picofox can detect elements from Al to U and quantify them down to ppb levels. Sample amounts can be in the nanogram range with the ability to analyze solid samples directly.

Customer application studies have shown the versatility of the S2 Picofox in the fields of pharmaceutical authenticity, environmental testing, food, agricultural products, nutritional supplements, biochemicals, and medical applications. For mining studies, the S2 Picofox can be used for geochemical screening, optimization of ore processing and exploration.

As a complementary tool to ICP-MS in a commercial laboratory setting, the S2 Picofox is being thoroughly evaluated by Flora Research Laboratories, Grants Pass, Ore. "Doors have opened in so many areas that we just did not consider in the past because of the relative ease and speed of sample analysis" states James Neal-Kababick, director of Flora Research. "When it is so easy to prepare samples for analysis and you can do many elements, it makes one more likely to approach inorganic tasks that would not normally be utilized."

All S2 Picofox instruments are pre-calibrated from the factory and traceable to primary standards. There is no need for any further calibration by the customer.


* Braker AXS, Madison, Wisc., 800-234-9729,

* Flora Research Laboratories, Grants Pass, Ore., 541-472-0980,
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Comment:X-Ray technologies earn gold at Pittcon: two new technologies introduced by Bruker AXS bring the power of x-rays to the benchtop.(CHROMATOGRAPHY/SPECTROSCOPY)
Author:Walz, Martha
Publication:R & D
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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