Real-Time Analysis of E-Cigarettes

IONICON has been a pioneer in the real-time puff-by-puff analysis of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) / electronic cigarettes and is a solution provider within this field of application.

Real-Time Analysis of E-Cigarettes

Image Credit: Ionicon Analytik Ges.m.b.H.

ENDS analysis

The experimental setup has been advanced to perfection, and is offered as an end-to-end, all-in-one solution:

  • Mainstream aerosol analysis: In order to precisely control puff duration, volume and frequency for subsequent online PTR-TOFMS analysis and real-time quantification, commercially available smoking machines can be connected to the setup.
  • Adjustable dynamic range: The professional dilution system from IONICON enables shifting the dynamic range of the PTR-TOFMS instrument by four orders of magnitude, allowing even extremely high concentrations in the ENDS mainstream aerosol to be investigated in the absence of any saturation effects.
  • Exhaled breath analysis: Very low concentrations following inhalation of ENDS aerosol, as well as relatively high compound concentrations in exhaled breath (after mouth-hold maneuvers), can be quantified with a split-second time resolution.
  • Exclusive focus on the particle-phase: A direct and quantitative characterization of main-stream particles of ENDS is facilitated by IONICON's genuine CHARON® particle inlet, coupled to the purpose-built iso-kinetic 1000-fold dilution system.
  • Puff-by-puff investigations: This process offers puff-by-puff analysis, in contrast to established offline methods, to facilitate both mainstream and exhaled breath investigations.

All surfaces that come into contact with the sample air are heated (no cold-spots) and treated according to the innovative EVR standards from IONICON.

Real-Time Analysis of E-Cigarettes

Image Credit: Ionicon Analytik Ges.m.b.H.

Unique ionization modes

Extract maximum information from your analysis thanks to the unique ion-chemistry of IONICON

IONICON enjoys a world-leading reputation in the manufacture of PTR-TOFMS instruments which have well-defined and controllable ion-chemistry (see patents EP3309817B1, US10074531B2). This is a vital component within the field of ENDS analysis.

The reduced electric field strength E/N can be precisely monitored, controlled and altered in alignment with the specific needs of the experiment in all of the PTR-TOFMS instruments. With the TRU-E/N® technology this is even the case in those instruments that are equipped with sensitivity boosting RF devices (for instance, ion funnel, hexapole ion guide). This ability to tune the instrument is crucial when it comes to the analysis of “fragile" molecules like vegetable glycerol (VG) and propylene glycol (PG).

In addition to the established H3O+, comprehensive tests with various types of ENDS have shown that NO+ and most crucially, NH4+ reagent ions are vital – crucially, the latter is produced without the need of any toxic and corrosive ammonia, with IONICON's exclusive method.

Reagent ions can be easily and rapidly switched between H3O+, NO+ and NH4+ in all of IONICON’s PTR-TOFMS instruments, thanks to the available SRI option.

Real-time analysis of exhaled breath

No memory effects and maximum hygiene with IONICON’s dedicated breath sampling interface

In order to maximize the time available for analysis, the majority of currently-available online breath sampling interfaces designed for analytical instrumentation are aimed at buffering exhaled breath samples. Following ENDS use, this is the direct opposite of what is required for exhaled breath analysis, with split-second time resolved compound quantification during exhalation, whilst sticky compounds in the system are eradicated as soon as the exhalation process has finished.

IONICON has created a dedicated breath sampling interface, which can then be directly linked to PTR-TOFMS instruments to facilitate online quantification in real-time. Accumulation of undesirable signal background is avoided by using a cold-sport free design in conjunction with carefully-selected materials. Common hygiene standards are fulfilled by disposable mouth-pieces with an integrated "non-return valve" – which additionally allows for studies with a large number of participants in very short time periods.

Thanks to the integrated dilution solution, which is fully electronically controlled via the PTR-TOFMS software high compound concentrations present in the exhaled breath after a mouth-hold maneuver (without inhalation) do not result in any saturation effects in the highly-sensitive PTR-TOFMS instrument.

Real-Time Analysis of E-Cigarettes

Image Credit: Ionicon Analytik Ges.m.b.H.

Absolute quantification accuracy

Convenient calibration with the IONICON LCU

Absolute quantitative analysis in real-time is provided by PTR-TOFMS. However, in order to obtain high accuracy concentration values, rapid and easy-to-use calibration of certain compounds in e-liquids can be very convenient. In particular, upon ionization via proton transfer from H3O+, PG and VG which are the main components of e-liquids, tend to fragment.

Despite the fact that relative concentration measurement results (like puff-by-puff variations) remain unaffected by this phenomenon, absolute concentration values must be corrected for the fragmentation ratios.

Liquid standards are brought into the gas phase at well-defined concentrations for direct analysis with a PTR-TOFMS instrument, thanks to IONICON's Liquid Calibration Unit (LCU). The user can therefore simply and easily mix home-made standards by dissolving defined amounts of pure substances in water or hexane, thus eliminating the need for expensive liquid standards.

Calibration curves can be acquired without the user being present during the measurement thanks to full automation of the LCU and the PTR-TOFMS control software, which therefore saves valuable working hours. The LCU can both correct the concentration values of PG and VG as well as the accuracy of all other important components of the sample (e.g. flavor, nicotine and aroma compounds, etc.) ensuring that it results in the perfect blend.

Real-Time Analysis of E-Cigarettes

Image Credit: Ionicon Analytik Ges.m.b.H.

About Ionicon Analytik Ges.m.b.H.

IONICON Analytik was founded 1998 as a spin-off company of the University of Innsbruck, Austria commercializing an innovative technology called Proton Transfer Reaction - Mass Spectrometry. Since then we have been improving this leading-edge technology resulting in the development of several types of ultra sensitive high resolution online mass spectrometers for monitoring and quantification of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in sub-pptv level concentrations.

Today we are the world’s leading producer of trace gas analyzers with market-leading, real-time, single-digit pptv-level detection limits using the unique Proton Transfer Reaction – Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) and Selective Reagent Ionization – Mass Spectrometry (SRI-MS) technology. Our product portfolio includes quadrupole MS and time of flight MS based instruments, air monitoring solutions and custom built TOF-MS, complemented by our own range of trace calibration devices and accessories.

We developed our own "ioniTOF" time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer platform that we produce in-house for our PTR-TOFMS series instruments and APi-TOF systems. We also strive to let others benefit from our customizable, affordable ioniTOF ecosystem for research and OEM applications.

Since 1998, we are serving our customers in many different application areas including atmospheric chemistry, environmental research and trace gas analysis (e.g. emissions in urban and remote areas, indoor spaces, vehicles), food and flavour science (e.g. analysis of coffee, olive oil, butter, cheese, wine, herbal extracts and aromas), industrial VOC monitoring (e.g. in waste incineration plants, chemical factories and production sites of the semiconductor industry) and illicit substances detection (Explosives, CWAs, TICs). A special focus was given to medical and biotechnological applications where real-time monitoring of industrial fermentation processes, of synthetic gas production processes in the petrochemical industry and real-time breath gas analysis in clinical settings are carried out.

We also offer analytical services and are an active contributor to numerous international scientific research and training projects.

In 2018 we proudly celebrated our 20th Anniversary with over 350 instruments sold. We manufacture our precision instruments at our company site located in Innsbruck, Austria.


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Last updated: Jul 15, 2020 at 9:05 AM

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