One of the early customised TOF systems designed by Kore came about through the vision of Prof. Nick Winograd at Pennsylvania State university. He wanted to have a system that could perform very high resolution spatial imaging SIMS on fully hydrated biological specimens.
He realised that acceptable signal to noise might only be possible with a high efficiency post-sputtering ionisation scheme and also that a high performance cold stage and cold sample preparation systems would be required. He also wished to be ensure maximum flexibility in the experiments that could be undertaken, with computer control providing a relatively easy set-up for non-expert users.
Kore worked with Prof. Winograd to see the first system built, providing design services and build of some of the more complex assemblies. Unusually, because of the instrument building experience at Penn State, it was possible for them to build and commission the instrument themselves with Kore providing support where needed. Prof. Winograd wrote his own software, thus ensuring he got exactly what he wanted, with the added ability to make quick changes in the light of experience. This flexible approach led to a very cost effective route for Prof. Winograd to obtain an instrument tailored to his particular requirements.
During this period Prof. Winograd was also collaborating with Prof. Vickerman’s group at UMIST in the UK, who also have a long and distinguished track record in the SIMS community. A second instrument was built, by UMIST, who again were able to keeps cost down via a DIY approach, with support from Kore and Penn State as required. Subsequently a third unit was built to satisfy the demand for instrument time at Penn State University.
With two research groups collaborating much progress was made in developing techniques for the preparation of frozen hydrated samples suitable for SIMS analysis. Kore provided further hardware for rapid sample introduction and in vacuo freeze-fracture.
More recently, Prof. Vickerman has been instrumental in the development of a C60 ion gun in collaboration with Ionoptika, and this has resulted in an impressive increase in ion yields from organic materials, as well as the ability to go beyond the static SIMS limit of primary ion dose. Further information can be found on the UMIST web-site.
A description of the basic instrument performance can be found in: R. M. Braun, P. Blenkinsopp, S. J. Mullock, C. Corlett, K. F. Willey, J. C. Vickerman and N. Winograd, “Performance Characteristics of a Chemical Imaging ToF Mass Spectrometer”, Rapid Commun. in Mass Spec. 12, 1246 (1998). This and many other papers can be found in PDF form on Prof. Winograd’s web-site.
If you have an interest in these application areas, you should consider getting in touch with Prof. Winograd or Prof. Vickerman, as their support would be highly desirable. Kore would, of course, be happy to assist if that should prove useful in any subsequent instrument build.
Kore Technology is a centre of excellence in time-of-flight mass spectrometer technology and has a very strong R&D capability in terms of its personnel, all of whom have been heavily involved in a variety of analytical instrumentation development programmes.