OrbitrapScientists are often skeptical and think that I am embellishing the facts when I tell them that Orbitrap technology can quantitate equally as well as a triple quadrupole instrument, and with little to no instrument method optimization!

Facts to Know About the Orbitrap

But before I get into the specifics on how and why Orbitrap is able to quantitate so well, let me tell you a few facts about the technology that you might find interesting.

Would you believe that the free mean path of ions oscillating in the Orbitrap (during detection) is on average 50km? Yes, that’s about one million oscillations during a single measurement without any ion collisions! An incredible fact, and each time I think about the science that is behind a single recorded spectrum I am astounded. Another interesting fact is that the size of the Orbitrap is roughly the size of a two-year-old baby’s fist, and during measurements, one or more millions of ions oscillate inside the Orbitrap to create one high resolution accurate mass spectrum!

Independent Assessment of Orbitrap Quantitation Capabilities

Now that I got your attention, let’s talk about Orbitrap quantitation capabilities.

One reason for increased interest in using Orbitrap for pesticide analysis  is not only the technical benefits, but the development of the Q Exactive Focus mass spectrometer at a lower price (without compromising performance), which has made this instrument more affordable to the masses.

LC-Orbitrap provides the capability to operate in full scan acquisition to capture all of the ions all of the time, overcoming the limitations of scope experienced with triple quads without compromising quantitative performance. With software that provides reliable and automated detection of residues, this technology is a very attractive option for analysts wishing to increase the analyte scope of multiclass multiresidue methods, especially in complex matrices.

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Why is Very High Resolution Important?

High resolving power is particularly important for experiments involving food samples because solvent extracts of fruits, vegetables, cereals, spices etc. contain a significant number of background ions in addition to the analytes of interest. In such cases, high resolving power will make the difference between detecting and not detecting analytes at low concentrations due to the masking effect of isobaric interferences. In other words, accurate quantitation relies on high selectivity, which is the ability to resolve compounds of interest from background interferences.

Orbitraps: Targeted Quantitation Experiments

Using the Q Exactive Focus mass spectrometer’s powerful modes of operation, there are generally three types of targeted quantitation experiments: full-scan MS, SIM for single ion detection, and parallel reaction monitoring (PRM).

The Q Exactive or Q Exactive Focus mass spectrometers are now used extensively for the quantitation of small molecule analytes in a broad range of environmental analysis, food testing, and many other applications. The result is a steadily increasing collection of peer-reviewed publications highlighting the benefits of Orbitrap mass spectrometer-based quantitation. In an overview of these publications, three important themes emerge:

  • Easier food safety and environmental method development
  • Less uncertainty due to lower possibility of false detection of the analytes of interest
  • Unique ability to detect non-target compounds and to analyze data retrospectively without re-running samples

If you are interested in reading more about Orbitrap technology, please refer to the following publications and video recording:

Always what’s next.

During 2015, we added a lot of information to our Food and Beverage Community . Analytical Sciences are continually evolving, and along with developments in instrumentation, they create possible new solutions to food safety and quality challenges. Never wanting to standstill the question is. Always what’s next? Well, going into 2016, we have a number of collaborations with world-renowned institutes, especially in the areas of pesticides and beverages. To follow the progress of these collaborations along with in-house applications, webinars, publications, events, and more, including a Round Table discussion (Live Podcast, February 18th 2016) with Katerina Mastovska, Hans Mol, Walter Hammock, Amadeo Rodríguez Fernández-Alba and Richard Fussell, please visit the Food and Beverage Community, which will have a new look and feel in early 2016.