ABB introduces ‘research grade’ spectrometer

06 July 2010

Aimed at pharmaceutical and life science applications, this FT-NIR (Fourier transform near-infrared) spectrometer is said to provide “exceptionally accurate measurements” and is guaranteed to operate for ten years without any scheduled maintenance.

From Québec: ABB's MB3600-PH FT-NIR spectrometer
From Québec: ABB's MB3600-PH FT-NIR spectrometer

From its Analytical facility in Québec, Canada, Frédéric Despagne, ABB Life Sciences Industry Manager announced the introduction of the MB3600-PH FT-NIR spectrometer, which he described as a “benchtop analyser that can be fitted with a variety of accessories for accurate measurements on a broad range of applications.”

The suggested applications include laboratory QA/QC (Quality Assurance/Quality Control) analysis, raw material identification and qualification, research and development, NIR method development, and at-line Process Analytical Technologies (PAT) measurements.

The advantage of FT-NIR

According to, FT-NIR spectrometers utilise interferometers, which split the source light. One beam is reflected off a fixed mirror, while the other is reflected off an oscillating mirror; the two beams are then recombined, creating an interferogram, to which a Fourier Transform is applied to produce a spectrum.

There are several advantages of FT-NIR instruments over conventional dispersive NIR instruments. Given that FT-NIR instruments measure the entire spectrum simultaneously, they are faster, and more sensitive, with lower noise levels. The inherent design of an FT-NIR system also provides for an internal calibration on every scan, which is known as Conne's advantage.

The pharmaceutical industry is the leading user of FT-NIR instruments, due in large part to Conne's advantage, which eliminates inter-instrument variability and allows for easy transfer of methods and calibrations between instruments. This is critical to all functions, such as quality control, research & development, and coordination with process instrumentation.

The food industry is the second largest user of FT-NIR instrumentation, with much of its demand derived from the large installed base of conventional dispersive NIR systems that have long been used in that area.

(The foregoing data were extracted from SDi's market analysis and perspectives report entitled Global Assessment Report, 9th Edition: The Laboratory Life Science and Analytical Instrument Industry.)

ABB’s advantages

Mr. Despagne  says the new spectrometer “combines all the attributes of a research grade instrument — in particular an outstanding signal-to-noise ratio — but at the same time maintains a minimal cost of ownership.”  

The new design and metrology allow the user to operate the instrument without any scheduled maintenance for a period of ten years. Its aluminium casting also provides the level of protection needed for intensive use of an analytical instrument in an industrial environment.

The universal sampling compartment provides versatility, accommodating a wide range of accessories such as liquid vial holders or probes to address all the needs of a modern analytical laboratory, while minimising the number of movable mechanical elements.

The “very simple and robust interface” for data acquisition and routine analysis in especially beneficial for use in 21 CFR Part 11-compliant mode.

“As modern analytical instruments get more advanced and complex, it is important to make sure they are easy to operate and maintain,” said Mr. Despagne. “They must also comply with current good laboratory practices and regulatory guidelines.

“The spectrometer has been designed around these key principles, the result of more than 35 years of experience in FT-IR spectroscopy as well as over 15 years of presence in Life Sciences analytical laboratories.

“We have always provided our customers with FT-IR instruments that are robust and exceptionally accurate . The MB3600-PH continues this heritage, offering ease of use, precision, in a package that requires minimal maintenance that will withstand the demands of harsh industrial environments.

“While the exceptional stability of the wishbone principle with corner cube mirrors ensures reproducible data, the interferometer design has been further refined with the introduction of an innovative double-pivot concept derived from our aerospace technology, offering outstanding robustness. As a result, the permanently aligned optics does not require alignment and the interferometer has a lifetime warranty.”

ABB Analytical, designs, manufactures and markets high-performance FT Mid-IR/Near-IR analytical system solutions and spectrometers for Petroleum, Chemical, Life Science, and Remote Sensing/Aerospace markets. The company also markets analysers for hydrogen and inclusion measurement in liquid aluminium.

More information is available at

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