High-sensitivity gas chromatograph incorporates novel plasma technology

Achieves detection sensitivity over 100 times that of thermal conductivity detectors

The Tracera high-sensitivity gas chromatograph

The Tracera high-sensitivity gas chromatograph from Shimadzu Corporation is equipped with a newly developed barrier discharge ionisation detector (BID), which detects all types of trace organic and inorganic compounds, with the exception of helium (He) and neon (Ne), at the 0.1ppm level.

The company says the Tracera GC is applicable for many types of high-sensitivity analyses typically performed with GC systems incorporating different detectors.

The BID has been developed following the company’s investigations into the basics of plasma detection technology as a means of increasing sensitivity stability and the detectable concentration range.

‘The Tracera is a ground-breaking system that combines this new type of detector, offering features not provided by conventional detectors, with the Shimadzu GC-2010 Plus high-performance capillary gas chromatograph,’ said Masahito Ueda, General Manager of GC & TA Business Unit, Analytical & Measuring Instruments Division at Shimadzu. ‘It is expected to improve the efficiency of high-sensitivity, trace-quantity analyses, and to reduce equipment and analysis costs.’

The main features of the Tracera system are high sensitivity – Shimadzu says it achieves a sensitivity over 100 times that of thermal conductivity detectors (TCD), and over twice that of Flame ionisation detectors (FID).

The BID generates helium plasma, which produces high photon energy to ionise the sample components, enabling such high-sensitivity detection. It improves analysis sensitivity even with aldehydes, alcohols, and halides, for which sensitivity decreases with FID.

The company says a single Tracera system can perform analyses that conventionally required complicated systems equipped with multiple detectors and units. Examples include the analysis of hydrogen and organic compounds such as formic acid, generated as part of the reaction process during artificial photosynthesis, and the analysis of low concentration hydrocarbons and permanent gases generated in lithium ion rechargeable batteries.

With the new BID, the plasma is generated inside a quartz tube, so it makes no contact with the discharge electrode used for plasma generation. As a result, the detector electrode is not degraded, achieving long-term analytical stability.

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Shimadzu UK (more information, website)