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MALDI-TOF MS Power for In-Depth Polymer Analysis

From routine QC to discovery and characterization, the autoflex maX MALDI-TOF and TOF/TOF systems offer versatility and reliability for the rapid analysis of challenging sample types. With a new 10 bit digitizer providing increased dynamic range, its analytical utility is maximized for detailed profiling of polymers, peptides, proteins, lipids, and glycans with minimal sample preparation.

More than 25 years of MALDI - proven technological innovations

autoflex maX

The autoflex maX MALDI systems are built with our proven technological innovations and designed to be a powerful tool for scientists, analytical chemists, and researchers around the world. Since the launch of our first commercially available MALDI-TOF MS system, the REFLEX, in 1992, we have continually worked to improve the analytical performance and capabilities of our flex family of MALDI TOF and TOF/TOF instruments. The early adopters of MALDI technology might never have imagined that enzymatic digests for identification via Peptide Mass Fingerprinting might lead way to LC-free, turn-key identity screens for the QC of complex biotherapeutics, with clear results (using our Biopharma Compass software) in less than 15 minutes, or that profiling of glycan pools can be used to rapidly visualize different mAb batches.

Sequence fidelity can be confirmed in a flash with MS/MS analyses, and the low sample consumption of the smartbeam II laser of the autoflex maX supports analytical depth, even for very complex samples.

Powerful smartbeam laser for in-depth analysis

The amenability of the smartbeam laser to a wide array of MALDI matrices offers ionization flexibility and analytical power. That flexibility can be critical for polymer analysis, as the diversity of polymeric substances that helps to make them invaluable to everyday life often pose a challenge for detection and characterization. Whether for industrial QC, impurity evaluation, or characterization of additives, the autoflex maX MALDI-TOF systems are fast and informative, particularly when used together with our PolyTools software.

Analysis of broad spectrum of molecules

All of our MALDI-TOF mass spectrometers can analyze ions over a wide m/z range, enabling analysis of a broad spectrum of molecules, from smaller molecules, for example lipids and peptides, up to polymers and intact proteins larger than 100 kDa. With our PAN panoramic focusing, peak resolution is maintained, and the new 10 bit digitizer of the autoflex maX enhances dynamic range for a more complete view of low abundance sample components. In MALDI MS imaging applications, this expansion of dynamic range can be invaluable for complex samples such as tissue, but also beneficial for all applications, including QC workflows, direct TLC-MALDI, and polymer characterization.

polymere analysis
Characterization of poly n-butylacrylates on the autoflex maX system.
MALDI-TOF spectrum of the poly n-butylacrylate synthesized in bulk at 100°C* illustrates the dynamic range of the autoflex maX system with signal intensities the range of three orders of magnitude. Both very low intense signals around 35 kDa and fine spectral detail in the low mass range (~3kDa) are clearly detected without saturation.

*Agirre, J. I. Santos, A. Etxeberria, V. Sauerland, J. R. Leiza, Polym. Chem., 2013, 4 (6), 2062 – 2079

With a laboratory-friendly footprint and the option to upgrade from TOF to TOF/TOF capabilities in the field, the autoflex maX offers true value and analytical versatility and continues Bruker’s legacy of providing innovative and realiable solutions for every laboratory.

Like all of our FLEX series MALDI-TOF and TOF/TOF systems, the autoflex maX instruments are engineered to reliably provide high value data in daily operation. The application flexibility of autoflex maX is strengthened by its improved dynamic range, providing a more complete picture of diverse molecular species across a broad mass range.

The smartbeam™II laser is integral to MALDI instruments

At the heart of the autoflex maX our proprietary smartbeamTM II solid state laser. With up 2 kHz speed in MS mode and 200 Hz for M/MS, time sensitive analysis – such as would be needed for biopharmeutical integrity screening – can be made in minutes. The best-in-class ionization efficiency of the smartbeam laser minimizes sample consumption and maximizes quality data output from each target position, even for complex samples.  The ionization is gentle enough that tissue samples may be stained after analysis in MALDI MS Imaging workflows. Amenable to a host of MALDI matrices, the smartbeam laser offers a long lifetime of service for a wide range of applications.

Keeping focus across a broad mass and dynamic range

As with all of our MALDI-TOF systems, proprietary PAN™ panoramic focusing technology supports confident analyses of lipids, glycans, peptides and large proteins. The autoflex maX provides peak resolution up to 26,000, and its new 10 bit digitizer in combination with our FlashDetector™ means low ppm mass accuracy and amol sensitivity. This depth and breadth of analytical power critical to the QC of polymers, for example, where small details may be missed by other types of analyses.

Driven by intuitive softwares

A key component of the value and walk-up approachability of the autoflex maX is the Compass software suite, including flexControl for data acquisition and flexAnalysis data analysis. Whether user driven or automated, these softwares support the generation of quality data quickly and easily. Further, they work in combination with application specific software packages including Biopharma Compass for biopharmceuticals, PolyTools for polymers, and SCiLS for MALDI imaging.

Maintenance made easy

An analytical platform with this range of utility can become a workhorse in the lab, but ion source maintenance is made easy with the push button, laser based self-cleaning of the Perpetual™ Ion Source. In less than 15 minutes, the autoflex maX will be ready to resume its workload. Remote service capabilities with Bruker engineers support rapid troubleshooting as well as software and firmware updates on the spot.


Straightforward analyses with speed, power, and versatility

With the autoflex maX, the application flexibility of MALDI-TOF MS is fully supported for rapid discovery and characterization workflows including peptide, protein, and polymer QC, LC-free glycan profiling, lipid analysis, and molecular histology. Upgrades from TOF to TOF/TOF systems can be made on-site, affordably adding analytical power for many applications.

Depth and diversity for polymeric evaluations

Synthetic polymers are ubiquitous in our modern life – from packing materials to paints and cosmetics and even pharmaceutical products. MALDI TOF mass spectrometry is a fast and easy method for polymer characterization, providing detailed information and mass accuracies far beyond traditional gel permeation chromatography. In many cases, oligomerically resolved polymer mass spectra may be obtained from the autoflex maX, and from this data monomer units and end groups can be rapidly determined via our PolyTools software. Characteristic values of the polymer, including weight average molecular weight (MW), number average molecular weight (MN), dispersity Đ, and degree of polymerization may also be automatically calculated, and even similar polymeric components may be easily distinguished. In cases where mass calculations from polymers with broad mass distributions (D > 1.2) are difficult to perform, the enhanced dynamic range of the autoflex maX provides more data of potential value with the detection of very low intensity peaks and a broader polymer distribution.

Rapid biopharmaceutical product characterizations

In biopharmaceutical development and production, fast and educated decision making can reduce time and costs in applications from early development through QC. Rapid LC free methods have been developed using the autoflex maX to determine glycan profiles for clone selection, perform rapid ID testing during fill-finish operations, and QC diverse incoming goods, including polymer additives.

Rapid ID confirmation
Rapid ID confirmation of monoclonal antibodies can be achieved by MALDI-TOF based Peptide mass fingerprinting (PMF) on the autoflex maX System. Click to enlarge the sample preparation protocol.

Redefining histology with spatial resolution of molecular species

Information on the spatial distribution of molecular species in biological tissues, plants, and even industrial materials as provided by MALDI imaging opens unique views on a myriad of research pathways.  The autoflex maX systems enable the imaging of a broad array of molecules, ranging from rather small molecules (e.g., lipids), up to intact proteins of 20 kDa or more.  Fast data acquisition rates permit the collections of thousands of data points in a realistic laboratory time scale, and the enhanced dynamic range of detection of the autoflex maX offers a true advantage in the analysis of highly complex samples such as biological tissues. 

With such a wealth of data, analysis for both targeted and discovery workflows requires powerful software to maximize its utility. Our market-leading SCiLS Lab software is a comprehensive toolbox for detailed analysis of MS imaging data and combines with autoflex maX as a robust and reliable MALDI imaging team.

negative ion mode
MALDI Imaging analysis of lipids in rat testis tissue. (Click to enlarge.)

The reliability and depth of both peptide and glycan based screening is improved due to the enhanced dynamic range of the autoflex maX. Antibody identification can be achieved rapidly using a dedicated 15 minute denaturation and digestion protocol, with the autoflex maX providing differentiating pattern of abundant peptide (peptide mass fingerprints). When compared to a reference pattern library, a dedicated scoring algorithm in our Biopharma Compass software provides similarity scores and traffic light color coding for easy determination of the correct mAb sequence match. Clone selection and QC screens can be quickly made from analysis of IdeS digested (Genovis) human IgG or on PNGAse F released glycans from all types of antibodies, and butterfly plots generated within Biopharma Compass allow rapid visual comparison of glycan pools of different mAb batches.

Comparison of N-glycan profiles
Comparison of N-glycan profiles of two batches of an IgG mAb with different intensity of G1F and the presence of high mannose glycans. (Click to enlarge)

For Research Use Only. Not for Use in Clinical Diagnostic Procedures.