IONICON was founded in July 1998 by a group of idealist scientists and peers, aiming to make a new technology available to the public which they considered a gamechanger for the future of analytics. They were convinced of what Proton Transfer Reaction - Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) could do for the benefit of the environment, progressing climate research and providing insights for many application fields no other technique could do at that time. For the first time low detection limits and quantitative real-time results without sample preparation nor consumables were united in one instrument. Join us when we look back in time a decade and more, to the early beginnings, highlighting some crucial steps we took along the way. Lukas Maerk, CEO, reflects in a short interview for The Analytical Scientist on how far IONICON has come over the past decade, the period where the PTR-TOF success story took off.
"Then and Now…" with Lukas Maerk
Think back to 2013… What were your main aims and ambitions for the company?
The cornerstone for our success today was set back in 2013 with an R&D breakthrough: we introduced the first PTR-TOF instrument – which we developed and built entirely by ourselves. This allowed for perfect component matching, flexibility in the design, and a lower price tag for our customers. It was robust, user friendly, and powerful. But 2013 was only the starting point for many new technologies and PTR-TOF products...
What has been your company’s most significant innovation over the past 10 years?
Before our company was founded in 1998, chemical analysis was done offline, required laborious sample preparation, and took hours. We disrupted this process completely. PTR-MS trace gas analyzers sample the air in real time, do not require sample preparation, and provide immediate quantitative results. Introducing the new PTR-TOF series in 2013, we made this technology available for many cost-sensitive routine applications, reducing the complexity of earlier products and increasing sample throughput significantly.
How has your company made a difference over the past 10 years?
Our PTR-TOF instruments have been part of some groundbreaking discoveries, and thinking about what our customers have achieved in these years is genuinely humbling. For example, our instruments were used in the CERN CLOUD chamber studies, which have changed how we understand the world’s climate. Our mobile and robust trace VOC analyzers have contributed to monitoring the melting permafrost VOCs in the tundra, and, as airborne analyzers, tracking oil and natural gas production emissions in the US aboard NASA’s flying laboratories. Decision makers across the globe rely on IONICON PTR-TOF data gathered from urban air quality network installations. Our analyzers cover many locations, from the greater Shenzhen area, where a dozen PTR-TOF 1000 instruments are monitoring the air 24/7, to one of our most advanced CHARON PTR-TOF 10k analyzers, which is on a discovery mission in the New Delhi smog.
Turning to the semiconductor industry, our systems are used to monitor production processes, cleanrooms, and wafer transport containers (FOUP), contributing to chips that are readying the world for the decades to come.
First published by The Analytical Scientist
"I would like to conclude with a personal note on our 25th anniversary year: We are very proud of our successful and sustained growth through all these years. Having racked up impressive numbers, with more than 600 PTR-MS instruments sold and over 300 ioniTOFs built until 2023. We have ambitious plans for the future, but most importantly, I want to thank our customers and our more than 50 employees, who make my world brighter each day!"
And then, we had a party...
Image Credit: IONICON Analytik