Monthly Archives: January 2018

Mass Spec Lab Design Trends: Supporting a Collaborative Workplace

07Proper lab design can be critical for successful research. Over the years, many mass spec lab design trends have come and gone.

It’s why we think it’s important to stay up on the latest trends unfolding in the field—and it also gives us the opportunity to mention how well our dedicated lab furniture can fit into labs designed using the latest ideas.

Collaboration Is Key

These days, there’s a definite move toward more collaboration. Historically, facilities tended toward a siloed type of mass spec lab design. Today, however, “open labs” are increasingly the trend.

They allow for team-based work, problem-solving, and a more social approach to lab culture. One reason for this trend is that many millennials have been taught to approach problem-solving as a team, bouncing ideas off each other. Open labs help support this methodology.

Retaining Some Closed Mass Spec Lab Design Options

While the open lab is helpful in many cases, there are other situations when closed labs are more practical and efficient. For example, when large amounts of equipment dominate, such as in many mass spec labs, it can be more cost efficient to opt for a traditional “closed” lab design, surrounded by open spaces that allow for shared use of the equipment.

Some procedures, such as glass washing, tissue culturing, and dark room work, are also better suited to closed labs. Quiet, enclosed spaces tend to be more efficient for data analysis and report writing as well.

Addressing Energy Demand

Another trend being addressed by the latest types of lab designs are “green” or environmental concerns. Research labs typically use a good deal of resources, consuming as much as five times more energy and water than say a teaching space.

As a result, implementing environmentally sustainable designs and gaining LEED certification can be especially beneficial, potentially saving money in utility and operations costs.

Flexibility Remains Important

For years, we’ve been talking about the importance of flexibility in lab design. In fact, adaptability seems to be an ever-more-valuable aspect of mass spec lab design. Whether it’s due to the growth of interdisciplinary sciences or a desired decrease in long-term renovation costs (and lab downtime), designing a mass spec lab space that can be easily reconfigured is a key component for success.

One innovation that serves this type of flexibility is the overhead service carrier. By supplying everything from air and gas to localized exhaust and power, overhead carriers allow for lab benches to be reconfigured easily while still connecting to critical components. Power trunks can also be installed in each service carrier, allowing a mass spectrometer to be placed anywhere within a particular lab space.

Lab benches such as our IonBench MS are key players in this trend toward flexibility. When mass spectrometers are placed in open lab environments, it’s critical to keep them quiet. Our roughing pump enclosures reduce noise by 75 percent, enabling collaborative conversations to more easily take place. In addition, our solidly built, lockable casters make moving massive equipment a much easier and safer prospect.

To learn more about how our IonBenches can support integration of the latest modern lab design trends, contact us today.

 

New Mass Spec Applications Reveal Our Skin in New Ways

skinFollowers of this blog know how excited we get about the many ways mass spec technology transforms our world. The latest mass spec applications are revealing new things about something we tend to take for granted: our skin. Using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry-based metabolomics, researchers have developed a protocol that will bring new advances to studies on human skin, as well as the surface areas of any living being, paving the way for many practical applications.

Introducing 3D Molecular Cartography

This new protocol provides important breakthroughs on two different fronts. In the past, skin studies generally focused on a small area of skin. The new protocol, on the other hand, can look at skin over the entire body. For their seminal study, researchers took samples from 400 skin sites, each on two human bodies, one female and the other male. The study also broke new ground by focusing on both skin chemistry and microbial populations. Previously, studies tended to treat these separately. The kind of diagnostic power needed to gather, analyze, compare, and interpret the results from this vast amount of data was made possible because of mass spectrometry. LC–MS technology enabled the performance of advanced metabolomics while tandem mass spectrometry was utilized for molecular identification. The final product was a 3D model of the sampled human skin, reproducible in any mass spec laboratory.

Initial Research Findings and Implications

Analysis of these hundreds of skin samples revealed that, even three days after application, molecules from hygiene and beauty products, such as sunscreen, remained on the skin. Furthermore, compounds such as plastics and clothing were also detected and analyzed using these mass spec applications. Food components handled by the study participants were also determined to have become part of the skin’s chemical composition. Clearly, this new mass spec protocol has the potential to support investigation into a wide variety of factors that influence skin ecosystems, including susceptibility to disease, personal hygiene, and the impact of clothing and manufactured products on the skin’s environment. Further studies hold promise to map the complex interactions between humans and the microbial world as well. Moreover, 3D cartography also has the potential to aid in comprehension of such complex data by both researchers and the public.

Diverse Potential Mass Spec Applications

There are a host of possible directions these new mass spec applications can take. Being able to determine where molecules linger on a body can assist with forensics, while molecular mapping of plants can be used to determine the spread of pesticides and other substances across agricultural fields. The cosmetics industry is already taking note of the potential for researching the impact of various products on human skin. The sunscreen samples found in the research cited above would be of particular interest—and perhaps concern. New mass spec technology and applications arise every year, and we are thrilled to support such critical work in a very literal fashion, through our customizable IonBench MS and IonBench HPLC-UHPLC cart. No matter what your field of research, your mass spec applications will be aided by standing on a firm foundation. Contact us today to learn more about our mass spec lab benches.

Don’t Let Lab Configuration Become a Game of Twister

TwisterChances are good that you inherited your lab space and didn’t have much say in how it was set up. Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who has the luxury of designing a brand-new space from the very beginning, you’re stuck with what you have. Furthermore, every lab is different; you can’t just copy someone else’s lab configuration because even if you’ve got a room with the same shape and size, the power outlets won’t be in the same place and you likely won’t have the same MS model as other labs.

Configuring your lab can become a greater challenge with every passing year as you take on additional equipment and projects. Getting work done in a crowded, haphazardly laid out environment is like playing a game of Twister. This is why the ability to customize your lab configuration really matters.

The Safety Aspects of Lab Configuration

Anyone who’s played a game of Twister knows that when any configuration gets too complicated, the system, like the game’s players, collapses. While that’s cause for lighthearted laughter in a children’s game, it can have a much more serious impact on your lab. The spatial limitations posed by most labs present a difficult challenge when you’re setting up your furniture layout in an existing space or need to add new equipment.

Mass spectrometry requires you to have a lab configuration that safely contains roughing pumps, holds the mass spec itself in a way that you (and service techs) can easily and safely access it, and houses your necessary peripheral equipment.

Questions to Ask When Configuring Your Lab

We’ve worked with a lot of lab managers and have seen a wide variety of lab spaces. Over the years, we’ve developed a list of questions that will help as you prepare to reconfigure your lab to accommodate new equipment or lines of work.

  • How many pieces of equipment do you/will you have?
  • How do they need to be connected?
  • How large is each piece of equipment?
  • What peripherals need to be connected with each piece?
  • What types of connections does piece of equipment need (power, hoses, tubing, etc.)?
  • Will hoses and tubes need to go out through the back of the bench or down through the surface?

Getting it Right with Customizable Lab Benches

Fortunately, we can help. Our dedicated lab furniture is customizable, which allows you to make the most of your limited space. In response to the needs addressed by these questions, we’ve developed IonBenches that are strong enough to hold the largest and most complex of mass specs, can be drilled with holes right where you need them for any type of connection, and are built with strong caster wheels that allow you to rearrange your lab configuration each time your line of inquiry takes a new turn.

Our IonBenches also work well together. We can manufacture mirror-image benches, where enclosures can match up with each other, allowing proper integration between mass spec and HPLC systems.

Don’t get pulled into a game of Twister. You might consult with a cabinet maker about the best configuration for new cabinets in your kitchen, so why not let us guide you with solutions to maximize space for the best possible lab configuration?

Contact us today at 888-669-1233 to discuss how to make the most of the lab space you have.