The 2007 IBO Portable Instrument Design Awards

A consistent need in a variety of market sectors, including security, environmental research and quality assurance and control is to be able to achieve laboratory-quality results in the field. IBO’s Portable Instrument Industrial Design Award acknowledges manufacturers’ success in solving the various challenges inherent to providing a portable version of a technique, and placing that portable version in a visually appealing package. The Award is given to portable analytical instruments weighing less than 13.6 kg (30 lb.). Gold Award IBO’s 2007 Gold Award for Portable Instrument Industrial Design goes to Innov-X Systems’ X-50 Mobile X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscope. The X-50 is pictured here in its “closed” configuration, which protects the analytical components of the device. In this configuration, the X-50’s appearance is marked by its rounded contours and the sturdy handle built in to its casing. The X-50 transforms for use: it opens from the top, uncovering the sample window, and its front panel flips outward to reveal a touchscreen display. Kim Russell, director of marketing for Innov-X Systems, explained, “We [Innov-X] are all about portability and ease of use. Consequently, we prioritize by weight, overall dimensions, user interface and ruggedness for field use.” The X-50 weighs 9 kg (19.8 lb.) and measures 30.5 x 33 x 20.3 cm (12 x 13 x 8 in.). While not as small as handheld XRF systems, the X-50 offers higher performance. The X-50 houses a 50kV, 200µA X-ray tube and a high-resolution Si-PIN diode detector capable of resolution up to 190 eV. Ms. Russell explained how the miniaturization of the X-50’s technical components was achieved: “In the course of our R&D and engineering efforts on various products and enhancements, we developed advanced features, including miniaturized high-powered X-ray tubes that could take portable XRF performance up a notch, primarily in terms of detection limits and speed of measurement.” Innov-X collaborated with Michael Cattafe Associates for the external design of the X-50. Ms. Russell explained that the primary design challenge in the X-50’s creation was “the ability to have radiation shielding in a portable unit that did not increase the size and weight by too much.” According to Ms. Russell, the X-50 took one year to develop. Silver Award Aurora Photonics’ PortArray 5000 portable microarray reader is the winner of the 2007 IBO Silver Award for Portable Instrument Industrial Design. The PortArray measures 15 x 15 x 36.2 cm (5.9 x 5.9 x 14.3 in.) and weighs 6.4 kg (14.1 lb.). One feature that makes the PortArray’s design unique is its portability and, consequently, its capacity to take microarray analysis to remote locations. To enable portability, the reader uses a patented fiber-optic illumination system and a CCD camera to read microarrays. The PortArray contains no moving parts, reducing its footprint and lowering its maintenance requirements, which benefits its end-users, who are frequently far from repair facilities. The contrasting graphic elements of the PortArray, such as its logo and indicator labels, act as a visual counterpoint to the dark grey of the reader’s exterior. Bronze Award Scent Detection Technologies’ Mini-Nose 1000 is the recipient of IBO’s 2007 Bronze Award for Portable Instrument Industrial Design. The Mini-Nose is a portable explosives trace detector that uses high-frequency quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) technology (see IBO 7/31/07). QCM can detect a number of explosives that are undetectable with ion mobility spectroscopy, such as urea nitrate and ammonium nitrate, the explosives that were used in the London and Madrid bombings, and TATP, a liquid explosive. The QCM technology in the Mini-Nose was designed specifically for use in a variety of environments and requires little maintenance. The base of the Mini-Nose measures a compact 8.1 x 21 x 21 cm (3.2 x 8.3 x 8.3 in.). The analyzer weighs 1.4 kg (3.1 lb.) and the probe, ergonomically designed for extended use, weighs 250 g (8.8 oz.). Despite the serious nature of its application, the Mini-Nose’s silver-and-blue color scheme has been popular in the market, and Scent Detection Technologies may offer the Mini-Nose in other colors.

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