Call for papers: FFF- or SP- ICP-MS for nanomaterial analysis

Cover image of JAAS, Issue 5, 2014You are invited to contribute to the upcoming JAAS themed issue dedicated to the analysis of engineered and natural nanomaterials by field-flow fractionation (FFF-) or single particle (SP-) inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).

For your article to be considered for this themed issue we must receive your manuscript by November 7th 2014.

Guest Edited by Björn Meermann and Francisco Laborda, the themed issue will showcase the current state-of-the-art of ICP-MS, either in combination with field-flow fractionation or in single particle mode, for the analysis of engineered and natural nanomaterials. The themed issue is open to both fundamental studies and applications covering all areas of associated research (e.g., environment, material sciences, biosciences, toxicology, ecotoxicology).

Please contact us if you are interested in contributing to the themed issue, which welcomes review articles, original research papers and communications.

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The Next Generation – An Interview with Ioana Konz

Today, we interview Ioana Konz, who recently defended her PhD successfully at the University of Oviedo, under the supervision of Dr. Beatriz Fernández-García and Dr. Mª Luisa Fernández Sánchez, and continues working in the research group of Prof. Dr. Alfredo Sanz-Medel.

Ioana in her lab in Oviedo

Who or what inspired you to become a scientist?

Both of my parents are chemists, so I suppose the scientific way of thinking was somehow put into my cradle. Furthermore, during the 10th grade in school my chemistry teacher had a very fascinating and inspiring way of explaining chemical phenomena. In contrast to the other Chemistry teachers, who had passed the conventional pedagogical education, he completed his Chemistry studies with a PhD and decided afterwards to dedicate his time to teaching in grammar school sixth form. Maybe because of the different educational background, he showed us another way of understanding Science and I wanted to see the world of Chemistry and all its ramifications through his eyes. That was when I first had the idea of studying Chemistry. The last three years in school, before entering University, strengthened my interest in Natural Sciences, so that finally my choice of studying Chemistry was quite easy.

Why did you choose your research group/University and what factors influenced your choice?

The last year of the Chemistry studies consisted in a 9-months laboratory work on a specific project and writing a report about the obtained results. At that time I had the opportunity to attend a very interesting presentation of Dr. Jörg Bettmer about ICP-MS and its impact on Bioanalytical Chemistry. When it came to the question whether I could carry out my diploma thesis in his research group he agreed but told me at the same time that he was continuing his research work in Spain as a member of the group of Prof. Alfredo Sanz-Medel. Due to the very interesting research topics carried out in his outstanding research group and its excellent reputation in the elemental MS community, after the diploma thesis I decided to extend my stay in the Analytical Spectrometry Group and carry out my Ph.D. in Oviedo

Can you explain a bit the purpose of your current research activities?

My research in Prof. Sanz-Medel’s group is related to the development of new analytical strategies for quantitative and spatially resolved direct solid analysis by LA-ICP-MS. One of the major remaining challenges in LA-ICP-MS analysis is still the reliability of the obtained quantitative data. In this vein, during my Ph.D. my research was focused, on the one hand, on the development of precise and accurate quantification strategies for trace elements in different solid matrices. On the other hand, both in qualitative and quantitative elemental imaging, the correction of the LA-ICP-MS signal for matrix effects, variations in ablated and transported mass and instrumental drifts still presents a great challenge. Thus, investigations on the applicability of several signal normalization approaches for elemental imaging analysis represented an important part of my work.

Having always in mind the idea of improving existing methodologies and instrumentation, and based on the experience gained in this research group throughout the years, finally, but not less important, we designed and assembled of a novel cryogenic laser ablation cell.

Nonetheless, the key for successful and forward-looking research are collaborations between different scientific disciplines as generally carried out in the research group of Prof. Alfredo Sanz-Medel. In my special case these fruitful collaborations were with engineers for the design of the laser ablation cell and with ophthalmologists, building in such way a bridge between Analytical Chemistry and biological fundamentals of ocular diseases.

How is a typical day in your lab?

Recently, I finished my Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry, so I consider myself as a senior scientist in the research group. Due to the valuable experience I earned over these years, I spend many hours helping my fellow colleagues, especially young scientists, in planning of experiments and operating analytical instrumentation. Of course, some of the experimental data will be translated into scientific publications. Therefore, the writing of scientific articles is also part of my work. When I’m not in the lab or behind my desk reading articles, I meet with my former supervisors to discuss on projects or collaboration partners.

What common activities are organized in your research group?

In our research group we have weekly meetings where we discuss on scientific topics and organisational issues before a Ph.D. student presents his recent research progress. Afterwards we have valuable discussions about the presentation and the work, where everyone can contribute with new ideas or suggestions. In this way we can stay up-to-date in different lines of investigation, since each student is working on his own project in different fields of research.

Our research group has also a long history in social events. Usually we are organizing a group-dinner before the Christmas vacations and a summer lunch in July. This gives us the possibility to stay in touch with all our colleagues, since some of them are working in other laboratories.

What app/programs do you typically use?

Most of the data treatment as well as the preparation of experiments, such as calculations of solutions etc., is done by MS Excel. For the translation of the LA-ICP-MS row-data into elemental imagines I apply Origin. This program is also used for graphical data. For the processing of pictures, photographs etc. I usually chose Adobe Photoshop.

How do you search for scientific information? How do you manage your bibliography?

Scopus is my first choice for any kind of scientific search. All the downloaded publications are then transferred into a general folder along with Ph.D. thesis or patents. These documents are listed in a special table I generated with Excel. This list presents the name of the document, authors, name of the journal, keywords etc. which facilitates my search for a certain manuscript. Since all entries are linked to the corresponding documents, each one can be opened individually by pushing the hyperlink.

What are your views on JAAS? Which type of articles do you prefer? Do you miss some content?

I published my first article in JAAS. For me as a young scientist this was an honor since JAAS is internationally regarded as one of the leading journals dealing with analytical atomic spectrometry presenting innovative research on the fundamental theory and application of spectrometric techniques. Throughout my Ph.D. it was and still is one of my first choices to look for answers related to questions arising during my scientific work. I cannot really say that I prefer a special type of article as this strongly depends on the current question I am working on. Sometimes I can find the relevant information in a review and sometimes in full papers or technical notes.

What do you like and dislike the most about your work?

I think the experiences gained throughout the Ph.D. were most valuable since they led not only to my scientific but also to my personal formation. What I most like about my work is that it gave me the possibility to strengthen my independent way of thinking as well as the capability to look beyond the own scientific horizon and open the mind for new fields. I cannot really name something that I don’t like about my work, but if I had to choose something that I like less of the scientific work in general, I would say that it is the influence of politics in Science which sometime hampers the development of new ideas and projects.

What do you expect to be doing in 5 years time?

In five years I see myself working in analytical research and development outside the academic sector. I am always searching for new challenges and I am sure that real life will constantly bring up new questions the scientific world can deal with. In this vein, my aim is to contribute positively in this process trying to find solutions which improve man’s life quality.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not in the lab?

During these last years I had the privilege to live in a real natural paradise surrounded by high mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, so most of my free time, especially on weekends, I went hiking with my family enjoying the peace and silence in the Nature. I also like to spend time with my friends and family, chatting while having a good meal.

Thanks a lot, Ioana!

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2014 Lester W. Strock Award for JAAS Editorial Board member Steven J. Ray

The Society for Applied Spectroscopy (SAS) and the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS) have announced that JAAS Editorial Board member Dr. Steven J. Ray, from Indiana University, has been selected as the recipient of the New England Section of the SAS’s 2014 Lester W. Strock Award “in recognition of the paper published in the 2011 Journal of the American Society of Mass Spectrometry” entitled “First Distance-of-Flight Instrument: Opening a New Paradigm in Mass Spectrometry”

This award has been established by the New England Section and is given annually to an author in recognition of a selected publication of substantive research in/or application of analytical atomic spectrochemistry in the fields of earth science, life sciences, or stellar and cosmic sciences.

Dr. Ray will present the Strock Award Plenary at the SAS National Meeting Sept 30, 2014 at the SciX 2014 Conference Reno, NV

Congratulations, Steve!

Dr. Steven J. Ray

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The First National Conference on Mass Spectrometry of Chinese Chemical Society Held in Beijing

By Nana.

The First National Conference on Mass Spectrometry of Chinese Chemical Societywas held on April25-27, 2014 in Beijing. This conference was organized by Mass Spectrometry Division of Chinese Chemical Society, and Department of Chemistry /Analysis Center of Tsinghua University. The symposium was initiated by Prof. Jin-Ming Lin from Tsinghua University and chaired by Prof. Hongyuan Chen from Nanjing University. Prof. Qiankun Zhuang from National Nature Science Foundation of China (NSFC) gave the opening speech before the plenary lectures. More than 400 conventioneers including scientists, experts and students of mass spectrometry from 79 academic institutions and instrument manufacturers attended the conference.

Prof. Jin-Ming Lin of Tsinghua University chaired the Open Ceremony

During this symposium, 15 plenary lecturers, 30 invited speakers and 30 contributed speakers presented their latest academic achievements in mass spectrometry related to environmental and food safety, pharmaceutical analysis, -omics, bio-analysis, and instrumentation developments. Eight excellent posters were selected for awards by a prize-jury group. The meeting has provided a great opportunity for academic communications in the hope of promoting the development of mass spectrometry in China.

Prof. Hongyuan Chen of Nanjing University during the Opening Ceremony

Prof. Qiankun Zhuang of NSFC giving the opening speech

The Chinese Chemical Society was found in 1932. It has 7 discipline committees, 23 divisions, 65,000 members and more than 60 group members. The Division of Mass Spectrometry was founded in 2013, chaired by Prof. Hongyuan Chen of Nanjing University. In commemoration of this new division and of its first conference, a special issue devoted to research in mass spectrometry in China was edited by Prof. Hongyuan Chen, Prof. Pengyuan Yang and Prof. Jin-Ming Lin and will be published in Science China Chemistry.

Conference Hall

(Thanks a lot for the news from Qiushui Chen, Tsinghua University.)

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2nd International Glow Discharge Spectroscopy Symposium (IGDSS)

The 2nd international GD symposium was held recently at the Czech Technical University in Prague from 7-9 April.  The Organizing Committee (lead by Chairman Peter Robinson) did an excellent job of putting together a program examining various aspects of all glow discharge spectroscopies across a wide range of applications.  Highlights included the use of GDs for exotic bulk materials analysis, in thin film depth profiling, their use in ultra-high resolution electron spectroscopies, for the direct analysis of liquids, as a competitive technique to Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, and even used in electron-beam welding applications. Approximately 100 attended the conference from 20 different countries, leading to a lively and vibrant discussion.

The IGDSS host the Payling Prize in Glow Discharge Spectroscopy. This prestigious prize is awarded to the young scientist who gives the best presentation during a meeting of the European Working Group for Glow Discharge. On this occasion, the Awardee was Dr. Sohail Mushtaq, a postdoctoral research fellow at LondonMet, for his work “Effect of small quantities of oxygen in a Neon GD”.

Congratulations, Sohail!

You can submit to the upcoming themed issue following this conference and dedicated to Glow Discharge Spectroscopy by contacting us.

Reception during IGDSS in Prague

Dr. Sohail Mushtaq receives his Award from Dr Volker Hoffmann

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April’s Bioanalytical Highlights

Welcome to this month’s bioanalytical highlights, keeping you up to date with latest developments in elemental analysis with a biological twist. All articles are free to read until May 25th.The emerging role of carbon isotope ratio determination in health research and medical diagnostics

The emerging role of carbon isotope ratio determination in health research and medical diagnostics
Daniel E. Bütz, Shanon L. Casperson and Leah D. Whigham
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014, 29, 594 DOI:10.1039/C3JA50327E

Changes in breath carbon isotope composition as a potential biomarker of inflammatory acute phase response in mechanically ventilated pediatric patients
Juan P. Boriosi, Dennis G. Maki, Rhonda A. Yngsdal-Krenz, Ellen R. Wald, Warren P. Porter, Mark E. Cook and Daniel E. Bütz
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014, 29, 599 DOI:10.1039/C3JA50331C

The expired breath carbon delta value is a marker for the onset of sepsis in a swine model
Daniel E. Bütz, Samantha L. Morello, Jordan Sand, G. Neil Holland and Mark E. Cook
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014, 29, 606 DOI:10.1039/C3JA50340B

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Synchrotron radiation and neutrons in art and archaeology (SR2A-2014)

Synchrotron radiation and neutrons in art and archaeology (SR2A-2014)

Musée du Louvre, Paris, 9—12 Sept 2014

Abstract deadline for oral presentations extended to April 30th.

Early bird registration deadline June 15th

For more information see the website: www.sr2a-2014.org

The conference will consist of three full days of oral presentations and poster sessions in the heart of the Louvre museum, Paris, France: 9—12 September 2014.

SR2A-2014 is open to all interested professionals, including archaeologists, conservation scientists, conservators, geochemists and material scientists, researchers with experience utilising large-scale research facilities and other analytical techniques, curators, cultural heritage managers, art historians, students, potential users of synchrotrons, etc. The Louvre venue is intended to provide an unprecedented opportunity for professionals from Europe and worldwide to meet and share their expertise and experience.

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HOT articles in JAAS

Take a look at these new HOT articles just published in JAAS. These papers will be free to read for the next 4 weeks. Enjoy!

Effect of oxygen in sample carrier gas on laser-induced elemental fractionation in U–Th–Pb zircon dating by laser ablation ICP-MS
Jan Košler, Simon E. Jackson, Zhaoping Yang and Richard Wirth
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014,29, 832-840
DOI: 10.1039/C3JA50386K, Paper

What happens when n= 1000? Creating large-n geochronological datasets with LA-ICP-MS for geologic investigations
Alex Pullen, Mauricio Ibáñez-Mejía, George E. Gehrels, Juan C. Ibáñez-Mejía and Mark Pecha
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4JA00024B, Paper Graphical abstract: Development and application of an analyte/matrix separation procedure for multi-element trace analysis of steel alloys by means of sector-field ICP-mass spectrometry

Elemental and isotopic analysis of americium in non-separated spent fuels using high resolution ICP-OES and sector field ICP-MS
Michael Krachler, Rafael Alvarez-Sarandes and Stefaan Van Winckel
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014,29, 817-824
DOI: 10.1039/C4JA00068D, Paper

Impact of humidity on speciation and bioaccessibility of Pb, Zn, Co and Se in house dust
Pat E. Rasmussen, Suzanne Beauchemin, Lachlan C. W. Maclean, Marc Chénier, Christine Levesque and H. David Gardner
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4JA00058G, Paper

Development and application of an analyte/matrix separation procedure for multi-element trace analysis of steel alloys by means of sector-field ICP-mass spectrometry
Tom Tindemans, Andrew Dobney, Dorine Wambeke and Frank Vanhaecke
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4JA00073K, Paper

To view these article for free, please register for a free RSC account here

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The Next Generation – An Interview with Lieve Balcaen

Today, we interview Lieve Balcaen, a post-doctoral researcher at Ghent University.

Lieve Balcaen in her lab in Ghent

Who or what inspired you to become a scientist?

As a teenager, I realized soon that mathematics and sciences were my favorite subjects at school, rather than languages or history. I like to work with objective facts and numbers and solving problems and equations has always been one of my favorite subjects in school. My specific interest for Chemistry was stirred by my Chemistry teachers. They convinced me of the importance of Chemistry in our daily life and they inspired me to find my own way in this interesting field.

Why did you choose your research group/University and what factors influenced your choice?

The choice for Ghent University was mainly based on the combination of its good reputation and its location close to my hometown.

During my Chemistry studies, I learned that I preferred analyzing samples and results over creating molecules and that’s where my love for instrumental analysis was born. The interesting projects and applications that were presented during a visit to the Atomic & Mass Spectrometry (A&MS) lab, led by Prof. Vanhaecke, and the great atmosphere among the group members, were the most important incentives for me to join the A&MS group.

Can you explain a bit the purpose of your current research activities?

The A&MS research unit mainly focuses on the development of analytical methods, based on ICP-MS and ICP-OES for the determination, speciation and isotopic analysis of a huge variety of sample types. Most of our research projects originate in an analytical problem encountered by colleagues from other fields (medical doctors, archeologists, ecotoxicologists, geologists, biologists etc.) or industrial partners. After discussing the problem and the pros and contras of the technique, we try to develop sensitive and accurate methods that allow us to meet the needs of our partners and simultaneously, give us the opportunity to explore the capabilities of the different instruments we have at our availability in the lab.

How is a typical day in your lab?

What I like most about my job, is that there is no “typical day” in the lab. While for several years, my days mostly consisted of sample preparation in the lab, analyses with one of our instruments or evaluating data, nowadays I am evolving more and more in the direction of guiding PhD-students and the more “administrative” part of the job (fund raising, management, etc.).

Next to research, I am also involved in lecturing at the university. My main task here is to teach bachelor students in Chemistry how to deal with problems in Analytical Chemistry, such as pH calculations, solubility, potentials, … and the basic principles of spectroscopic analysis. As a member of the Chemistry educational board, I also try to contribute to the quality of training of the future generations of chemists.

What common activities are organized in your research group?

Some of my colleagues are really good at organizing social activities, so every year we have a barbecue, a Christmas party and a teambuilding activity in our department. On a regular basis we give small receptions to welcome new group members and most people also bring treats to work for their birthday. Once a year, we go out for dinner with all A&MS-members. These activities are a good way to strengthen the link between colleagues, also on a personal level.

How do you search for scientific information? How do you manage your bibliography?

Whenever I need scientific information, I start my search via the Web of Science (and more recently also Google Scholar).

To keep track of my own publications, I use a personal Excel-document that we can easily extract from the bibliography-page of our university (based on the Web of Science; combined with own input for the most recent papers).

When writing a scientific paper, I generally make use of Reference Manager or Endnote to include references and generate a bibliography.

What are your views on JAAS? Which type of articles do you prefer? Do you miss some content?

Since the start of my scientific career, I have considered JAAS as one of the most important journals in my research field, because it is really dedicated to Atomic Spectrometry and therefore contains a lot of detailed information about the subjects I am really interested in.

Review articles are generally a good and fast way to get launched into a new project, but of course, the original research papers contain more valuable information on what and how to perform the actual work.

What do you like and dislike the most about your work?

I really like the combination of research, management and education and I realize that a university lab is the ideal place for that.

What I dislike the most, is that students come and go (typically 4 years PhD), and that it is sometimes hard to ensure continuity in projects and knowledge transfer. And I guess we all know those frustrating days when instruments seem to work against you rather than for you.

What do you expect to be doing in 5 years time?

I really hope that I will still be around in this research field and that by then, the future of my scientific career will be a bit more ‘clear’.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not in the lab?

Most of my time ‘outside of the lab’, I spend with my husband and kids. With 2 preschoolers at home, there is not much time left for hobbies, but whenever I can make some time, you’ll find me with my guitar, my sewing machine, talking with friends or walking around for some treasure hunting (geocaching).

Thanks a lot for your time, Lieve! Have a look at Lieve’s latest articles published in JAAS!

Isotope ratio mapping by means of laser ablation-single collector-ICP-mass spectrometry: Zn tracer studies in thin sections of Daphnia magnaMaría R. Flórez, Maite Aramendía, Martín Resano, Ana C. Lapeña, Lieve Balcaen and Frank Vanhaecke
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2013,28, 1005-1015 , DOI: 10.1039/C3JA50087J, Paper

The influence of menstrual blood loss and age on the isotopic composition of Cu, Fe and Zn in human whole blood
Lana Van Heghe, Olivier Deltombe, Joris Delanghe, Herman Depypere and   Frank Vanhaecke*
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014,29, 478-482, DOI: 10.1039/C3JA50269D


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Variations on isotopic composition of Cu, Fe and Zn in human blood linked with menstruation and age

A graph showing the influence of menstrual blood loss and age on the isotopic composition of Fe in human whole blood

The influence of menstrual blood loss and age on the isotopic composition of Fe in human whole blood

Elements with multiple isotopes have varied isotopic compositions in nature as a result of isotope fractionation. Biomedical applications relying on isotopic analysis have become more popular. Cu, Fe and Zn isotopic analysis in blood has shown potential as a diagnostic tool for a number of diseases. Furthermore, the natural variations of these elements on healthy individuals can provide useful information.

Frank Vanhaecke and colleagues from Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital compared the isotopic values of Cu, Fe and Zn between men, menstruating women and two groups of non-menstruating women, women in their menopause and women with an intra-uterine device (IUD) used for contraception. The results indicated that Cu and Fe isotopic composition of whole blood is affected by menstruation, since the results for both groups of non-menstruating women were significantly different from those of menstruating women and much like those for men. On the other hand, Zn isotopic composition seems to be affected by age, since there was a significant difference between menopausal women and women using the IUD. The authors suggest this difference can be explained by the different hormone levels.

The method used for the isotopic measurements was multi-collector inductively coupled plasma- mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS). The method was chosen for its significantly higher sample throughput capacity and also the higher ionisation efficiency for the transition metals investigated.

To read the full article, please access the link below. This paper will be free to read until 1 of May 2014.

The influence of menstrual blood loss and age on the isotopic composition of Cu, Fe and Zn in human whole blood
Lana Van Heghe, Olivier Deltombe, Joris Delanghe, Herman Depypere and   Frank Vanhaecke
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2014,29, 478-482
DOI: 10.1039/C3JA50269D

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