Ascenion GmbH has acquired shares in Photonion GmbH, a start-up company founded by scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München together with two mid-sized companies, Airsense Analytics GmbH, Schwerin, Germany, and Tofwerk AG, Thun, Switzerland. Photonion’s mission is to develop and commercialize a new mass spectrometry system that enables for the first time the straightforward analysis of complex organic materials, liquids or gases. Potential industrial applications range from the online control of coffee-roasting or plastic-producing processes to the analysis of cigarette smoke, crude oil or fine dust pollution.
The technology uses a soft photoionization source developed by Prof. Ralf Zimmermann and his team and is based on innovative vacuum UV light sources. ‘The key advantage of photoionization is that it reduces the fragmentation of the compounds to be analyzed. It therefore generates meaningful results, even when directly applied to complex organic mixtures,’ Zimmermann points out. ‘We can thus often skip the time- and cost-intensive separation procedures that are usually required prior to mass spectrometry analysis and employ our system, for instance, in process and quality control.’
Photonion has already entered strategic alliances with two industry partners for the development and distribution of two dedicated photoionization mass spectrometry systems – one for the analysis of solid organic matter through combined thermal analysis and mass spectrometry, and the other one for the online analysis of cigarette smoke. Over the long term, the company intends to produce and commercialize photoionization mass spectrometers as standalone systems to be used for manifold applications.