HPR-20 R&D installed in Thailand

Recently the Hiden representatives in Thailand, Mercantile Hitech Company, installed a Hiden HPR-20 R&D system in Chulalongkorn University. The advanced research gas analysis system was successfully installed and training provided to the users.

The academic group led by Dr Parichatr will use the HPR-20 R&D low detection limits and stable measurement to detect and measure a range of gas and vapours reaction products as they research novel electrocatalysts and investigate electrochemical reactions, for energy applications.

Find out more about the HPR-20 R&D Research gas analyser : HPR-20 R&D

Find out more about our representatives for Thailand : Mercantile Hitech Co


Hiden achieve benchmark environmental accreditation

Hiden Analytical are proud to announce that it has been awarded ISO 14001 accreditation for its environmental management system. This accreditation, which is widely acknowledged as a benchmark for organisations taking a responsible approach to environmental issues, applies across the Hiden group and represents the latest achievement as Hiden Analytical and Hiden Isochema continue to minimise the environmental impact of its activities.

Recent investment at Hiden’s headquarters in Warrington, England has included installation of solar panels and electric vehicle charging points, as well as implementation of new energy efficient heating and lighting systems.

Across the Hiden group, product development aims to increase the energy efficiency of our products, whilst we continue to implement modern solutions to reducing the carbon footprint of our transport and travel activities. Hiden Isochema remain committed to delivering the highest quality products and services to our customers whilst minimising our impact on the environment.

Role of Gas Analysis in the Future of Biogas

Although subject to fierce debate over the last few decades, there is now a global scientific consensus that the earth’s climate is warming at an unsustainable rate. Data gathered by Berkeley Earth, the Japanese Meteorological Agency, the Met Office Hadley Centre, NASA, and the NOAA National Climactic Data Centre shows a consistent trend of long-term global rising temperatures. With precise environmental gas analysis, these agencies and others have been able to inextricably link the current changing climate to human industrial processes.

A statement from eighteen scientific associations in America claimed:

Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

Demonstrations around the world have brought climate change into the spotlight, most recently causing the UK Parliament to declare an official climate emergency. While there is no accepted definition as to what constitutes a climate emergency, nor what must be done to correct the course of climate change, the overriding drivers behind climate change movements are to push towards carbon neutrality and sustainable energy. While gas analysis has already proven instrumental in historic and ongoing environmental studies, it has also been pivotal in the push towards achieving commercially-viable clean energy sources.

What is Biogas?

Alongside solar and wind farms, interest in biogas has gained significant momentum. It is predicted to be one of the most powerful sources of renewables currently available to us.

Biogas technologies provide a novel method for the controlled treatment of organic materials as varied as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant materials, sewage, and food waste to produce methane-rich biogas that can be utilised as a clean source of energy. Gas analysis is subsequently vital for acquiring real-time insights into critical gas species and diagnosing suitable biogas utilisations. Appropriate biogas species can directly replace fossil fuels in both heat and power generation.

Biogas is produced via a family of processing techniques known as anaerobic digestion. This refers to both wet and dry fermentation methods, where waste products are broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. These processes can occur naturally in landfills but are performed in a controlled environment using anaerobic digesters. Wet fermentation typically utilises a stirring mechanism within the digester to facilitate the desired chemical reactions.

Importance of Gas Analysis in Anaerobic Digestion

One of the drawbacks of biogas generation is the that fact leaks will cause air pollution akin to natural gas generation. Exhausted emissions from inefficient biogas combustion would also result in methane being expelled into the atmosphere, which is a particularly harmful greenhouse gas. It is important, therefore, that distinct feedstocks are characterised in-depth to measure critical gas species production and ensure optimal process control for a new generation of clean fuel.

Hiden Analytical offers the QIC series gas analysis systems for on-line monitoring of biogas processes. With multi-gas-stream capabilities and rapid flow rates, the QIC MultiStream can assist with real-time analysis of multiple species simultaneously, providing insights into critical species as varied as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, hydrogen sulphide, and methane with a dynamic range of measurement from PPM to 100%.

The QIC MultiStream gas analysis system has already proven useful in catalytic reforming, biomass treatment, and fuel gas desulfurization. Each of these processes is instrumental in identifying suitable eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels in order to help correct the course of global warming.

If you would like to learn more, contact a member of the team directly.


Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate is Warming, NASA (https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/)

Molecular Beam Gas Analysis with Hiden Analytical

Molecular beam mass spectrometry (MBMS) is used for quantitative gas analysis of reactive species and intermediates formed in various processes. Gas phase intermediates are sampled from reaction chambers using a differentially-pumped inlet, which forms a molecular beam of radicals, ions, polymers, or clusters. This is directed through a vacuum chamber and onto an ion detector. Due to the unidirectional motion of the molecular beam, sampled species undergo no subsequent reactions and will not collide with the interior of the sampling chamber. Species in the molecular beam are therefore entirely representative of the process species, enabling quantitative gas analysis of gas phase reactants.


The Hiden HPR-60 MBMS includes a special vacuum configuration with a < mach cone angle separation of the sampling skimmer cones. This creates the collision-less molecular beam that allows the mass spectrometer to sample ions, neutrals, and radicals at high pressure. A suite of additional features is included to address various applications across a pressure range of 10-4 mbar to atmospheric. In this blog post, we will explore the capabilities of the HPR-60 MBMS in more detail.

HPR-60 MBMS Gas Analysis

The HPR-60 MBMS features a modular two or three stage, close-coupled mach disc separated skimmer inlet with cone orifices that can be easily replaced by experienced users. The sampling skimmer cones are available in a choice of materials, including ceramic, platinum and quartz. The skimmer system directs the molecular beam into a triple filter precision mass spectrometer, via a low profile electron impact ion source. This provides rapid sampling of reactive gas species from processes in real-time, with mass range options of 50, 300, 500, 1000, or 5000 atomic mass units (amu).

The MBMS gas analysis instrument is equipped for a range of operating modes including:

  • Threshold Ionisation
  • Electron Attachment Ionisation
  • Positive/Negative Ions
  • Ion Energy Distribution
  • Bar/Profile Scanning

The aforementioned operating pressures are dependent on the configuration, which is generally determined by distinct gas analysis applications. Yet each mode is supported by the same data acquisition and control systems. Supplied with MASsoft Professional software, the HPR-60 MBMS is equipped for extremely high throughput analysis of reactive gas species in a molecular beam for reliable monitoring and evaluation of process chemistries. The software is also connected via a light-emitting diode opto-detector to the integrated multi-bladed rotating disc chopper and ultra-high vacuum (UHV) stepper motor for programmable signal gating of molecular beam chopping for increased sensitivity.

This unique instrument is suitable for gas analysis in an array of application areas, from process monitoring of chemical vapour deposition (CVD) processes to environmental and atmospheric chemistry studies.

Gas Analysis with Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical is the UK’s leading supplier of quadrupole mass spectrometers for gas analysis and process monitoring.  The HPR-60 MBMS featured above is one of several specialist gas analysis system configurations available from Hiden.

The Hiden QIC Series instruments include a heated capillary sampling system for real time gas analysis, the HPR-70 systems are configured for small discreet sample gas analysis where sample volume available for gas analysis is very small, and the HPR-90 systems are configured for gas analysis from enclosed volumes, light bulb gas analysis for example.

The Hiden HPR-40 instruments are designed for gas analysis of gases dissolved in liquid, for groundwater studies, pollution monitoring and for gas analysis applications in electrochemistry.

We have developed an extensive range of tools uniquely suited for quantitative analysis of reactive gas species via molecular beams. Our proprietary MASsoft Professional is also now available with new tools for automated gas analysis. If you have any questions about our HPR-60 MBMS, please contact a member of the team directly.

Solar Cell Thin Film Analysers from Hiden Analytical

Solar cell thin film analysers are used to facilitate research and development (R&D) into novel photovoltaic architectures by monitoring the processing conditions for epitaxial deposition of photovoltaic materials. These growth methods cover a range of advanced techniques, such as plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD) and radio frequency sputtering, which are used to generate a stack of p-n photovoltaic junctions on a suitable substrate material.

Solar Cell Thin Film Analysers from Hiden Analytical

This blog post will explore the importance of solar cell thin film analysers in more detail while highlighting some of the instruments available from Hiden Analytical for R&D and quality control (QC) in thin film photovoltaic manufacturing.

Solar Cell Thin Film Analysers: Improving on Conventional Technology

Heterojunction photovoltaics comprised of crystalline silicon (c-Si) remain the prime technology for manufacturing solar cells due to their high conversion efficiency. They are typically engineered by epitaxial growth of multiple layers of p- and n-type silicon to create a thick film structure up to a maximum 200 micrometres (μm) thick. This creates a single p-n junction of alternating silicon layers treated with different dopant atoms, usually phosphorous (P) and boron (B). This junction is tuned to a specific bandgap, resulting in low out-of-band attenuation and a theoretical maximum efficiency of up to 30%.

Solar cell thin film analysers have comprehensively improved the quality of silicon semiconductors by optimizing doping, epitaxy, and etching processes. This has been achieved through residual gas analysis (RGA), surface depth profiling, and plasma analysis using Hiden Mass Spectrometers: Mass Spectrometers for Silicon Semiconductor Analysis.

Alongside enhancing the performance of existing technologies, mass spectrometry and solar cell thin film analysers are widely used for epitaxy process control and research and development into novel photovoltaic materials and solar cell architectures.

Thin Film and Multijunction Solar Cells

Thin film solar cells are envisaged as the successor technology to last generation c-Si photovoltaics. They are engineered by depositing multiple layers of semiconducting materials, such as cadmium telluride (CdTe), onto a functional substrate without exceeding a typical film thickness of 10 micrometres (μm). These films are then sandwiched between an anode and a cathode to facilitate the absorption and conversion of photons into a voltage.

Research into cadmium telluride as a potential semiconductor for solar cell thin films stems back decades, owing to its optimal band gap of approximately 1.5 eV at temperatures of 0 – 300K. This is the optimal range for photons distributed throughout the wavelength spectrum of sunlight, enabling solar conversion efficiencies of up to 20%. Alternative photovoltaic materials for thin film solar cells include gallium (Ga), indium phosphide (InP), and germanium (Ge), but cadmium remains the most commercially viable owing to its good quantum efficiency and comparatively low cost.

Research into solar cell thin films is primarily focussed on improving the conversion efficiency to achieve a faster energy payback. This is being explored through novel material characterisation to determine the viability of different materials arranged in multijunction, or tandem solar cell structures.

Hiden Analytical’s Solar Cell Thin Film Analysers

There are numerous suitable solar cell thin film analysers available from Hiden Analytical, but the two that have been used most effectively for photovoltaic R&D are the SIMS Workstation and the EQP plasma diagnostics tool.

Using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), it has been possible to determine the efficacy of novel superstrate configuration methods for hetero- and multi-junction photovoltaics comprising cadmium telluride and cadmium sulphide on flexible molybdenum (Mo) foils. This has been used to illuminate some of the challenges and prospects of developing novel solar cells manufactured through RF sputtering.

The EQP solar cell thin film analyser has also been used as part of a novel sputter-plasma diagnostic tool for investigating new solar cell materials such as zinc sulphide (ZnS). This is equipped with software-controlled ion extraction optics capable of scanning sample chambers at 0.05 eV increments for ultra-precise analysis of positive and negative ions, neutrals, and radicals.

If you would like any more information about our solar cell thin film analysers, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

Exploring Spectrometers for Thin Film Applications

Successful engineering of a thin film structure through semi-modern manufacturing techniques was first reported as early as the 1800s. Oil-sealed vacuum pumps were used to sputter a component substrate with nebulized sample material, forming an extremely functional coating in a thin film. This form of physical vapour deposition (PVD) was one of the earliest and most important precursors to modern vacuum deposition techniques for nanofabrication and nanoscale surface engineering.

Exploring Spectrometers for Thin Film Applications

Brief History of Thin Film Engineering

Perhaps more important than this thin film sputtering technique was the rudimentary vacuum technology proposed by the oil-sealed pump itself. Edison used this type of tool in 1887 to evacuate the first carbon-filament incandescent lamps and reduce the oxygen content within a bulb so that a filament could reach white-hot temperatures without catching fire.

The problem with early PVD processes was the inability to achieve true vacuum conditions prior to deposition. Ensuring that a substrate is uniformly coated by a thermal vaporization source without contamination requires the processing chamber to be free from residual gas molecules. Sputtered material travels along a line-of-sight trajectory which can be interrupted by collisions with unwanted gaseous molecules in the deposition chamber. This complicated early PVD processes, and vacuum deposition of thin film structures was not considered commonplace until the early 20th Century.

Modern Thin Film Engineering

PVD thin film engineering is now broadly used for nanoengineering of microelectronics, organic photovoltaic cells, precision optical equipment, functional textiles, innovative display technologies, and much more. This has been enabled by the widespread utilization of additional deposition techniques that operate on bottom-up or top-down synthesis methods.

Bottom-up synthesis of thin film structures involves the subsequent deposition of atoms to lithographically build a thin film on the substrate. Top-down synthesis, by contrast, refers to a process where thin films are cut out of a substrate using a technology such as ion beam etching (IBE). PVD is a typical bottom-up form of thin film engineering, while IBE operates by sputtering a substrate with an ion beam to dislodge the atoms of a substrate around a pattern dictated by a developed photoresist.

Thin films are now ubiquitous in modern life, but process control is still complicated by the same problems that troubled early adopters of the technology. Enhancing thin film manufacturing processes with spectrometry capabilities enables manufacturers to guarantee that any special parameters are met with outstanding batch-to-batch reproducibility. This may require residual gas analysers (RGAs) to characterize optimal vacuum conditions in the processing environment and provide insight into the partial pressures of residuals such as gaseous hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The HPR-30 Series from Hiden Analytical is a vacuum process analyser for gas and vapour sampling systems. It has been engineered for maximum response sensitivity and speed for in situ monitoring of residuals in numerous thin film engineering techniques.

Post processing with secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) can also provide valuable insight into the quality of thin film structures on the angstrom scale. This technology sputters the uppermost surface material of engineered coatings and analyses the ejected secondary ions to determine elemental composition with nanometre depth resolution. Hiden Analytical provides both static and dynamic SIMS capabilities for accurate chemical imaging of thin film surfaces at thicknesses exceeding 30 microns, and as small as a single monolayer.

Hiden Analytical and Nanofabrication

Hiden Analytical is the UK’s leading supplier of quadrupole mass spectrometers for academic and industrial applications. We have developed an extensive range of research tools for process optimisation, quality control, and research into the fabrication of functional thin film structures.

If you would like more information about our expertise in thin film engineering, read our previous blog post: Surface Engineering of Thin Film Materials. Otherwise, contact us directly with any questions.

Fermentation Process Monitoring with Off-Gas and Dissolved Gas Analysis

Fermenters are used to accelerate the metabolic reactions within heterogeneous systems and promote population growth of desirable fungi and bacterial cells. This is typically conducted by introducing enzymes or other microorganisms to organic substrates in a hermetically sealed container. The medium is continuously mixed and either aerated (aerobic fermentation) or starved of oxygen (anaerobic fermentation). Numerous additional parameters must be controlled during process monitoring, including the gaseous composition of the headspace; net temperature within the bioreactor; pH level of the system; pressure levels; and more.

Fermentation Off-Gas & Dissolved Gas Analysis

Off-gas and dissolved gas analysis are key stages in fermentation process monitoring to maintain optimal bioreactivity conditions. This blog post will explore the performance of fermentation off-gas and dissolved gas analysis in more detail.

Fermentation Off-Gas Analysis

Hiden Analytical’s QIC BioStream is a multi-stream exit gas composition monitoring system that can be configured for fermenter process monitoring applications. It utilizes a sensitive sampling inlet and a proprietary selector valve that can rapidly detect and measure off-gas species above a concentration of 5 parts per billion (ppb).

The inlet samples gas flows from the headspace, which typically comprise up to 25% of the total fermentor volume and contain undissolved respiratory gases from the aeration feed alongside produced gases from reacting substrates. Off-gas sampling is one of the primary methods of quantitatively assessing the state of fermentation non-invasively. It can provide a wealth of information regarding the respiratory quotient (RQ) which can subsequently inform observations into growth kinetics and substrate consumption. This is an essential form of process monitoring for industrial fermentation applications.

Fermentation Dissolved Gas Analysis

The HPR-40 DSA Membrane Inlet Mass Spectrometer (MIMS) offers in situ monitoring of bioreactions in fermenters with real-time process monitoring of dissolved gas species. As a standalone unit, it provides outstanding precision with a selectively diffusive membrane that partitions dissolved gases from the liquid phase. This is ideal for process monitoring of alcohol fermentation and expanding ethanol production yields, as well as the conversion of sugars into lactic acids.

Dissolved gas analysis utilizes a submerged probe that acquires a liquid feed from the bulk fermentation fluid. This is then analysed to identify and measure the concentration of dissolved gas species. Chemical evolutions can be monitored as a function of time to determine the rates of various mechanisms such as oxygen uptake, which is a critical process in fermentation and can affect various end-product qualities.

Fermentation Process Monitoring with Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical is the UK’s leading supplier of quadrupole mass spectrometers for process monitoring of fermenters and bioreactors. Our QIC BioStream gas analyser was engineered for exit gas analysis of various bioprocesses and has demonstrated a powerful efficiency for real-time off-gas analysis in fermenter units. It can monitor multiple gas species in situ across a broad flow range from 4 ml/minute up to a possible 10l/minute. The HPR-40 DSA MIMS meanwhile offers sub-parts per billion (ppb) detection levels and analysis of dissolved species up to a 300 amu mass range.

If you would like more information about fermentation process monitoring with Hiden Analytical products, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.


Outlining the Applications of the UHV-TPD Workstation

Ultra-high vacuum temperature desorption (UHV-TPD) or thermal desorption spectroscopy (UHV-TDS) studies are performed to observe and quantify the molecules that desorb from a solid substrate at elevated temperatures. The binding affinity between adsorbate molecules and the substrate may be determined by a range of factors, including the chemical composition, physiochemical structure, and electrochemical behaviour of either constituent. These phenomena determine the energy required to form and subsequently break the bond between a substrate and adsorbed molecules.

Outlining the Applications of the UHV-TPD Workstation

Increasing the temperature of the solid surface energises the adsorbate molecules and eventually causes them to desorb from the surface. This is known as the desorption temperature, which must be measured in UHV conditions to eliminate contaminating elements from the study. UHV-TPD analysis can provide a wealth of information for a broad range of applications.

UHV-TPD with Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical’s complete experimental UHV-TPD workstation is equipped with a multiport UHV sample chamber and a heated sample stage of up to 1000°C with integrated PID controls. This hardware is equipped to a high precision triple filter analyser, for time-resolved analysis of desorbed species with unmatched sensitivity. This equipment has proven successful in numerous areas of product and technology research and development, including:

  • Thin films;
  • Photovoltaics;
  • Semiconductors;
  • Materials characterisation;
  • H2/D2/T characterisation in fusion reactor wall tiles;
  • Surface science.

The UHV-TPD workstation is primarily geared towards the study of novel electronics and electronics manufacturing, providing actionable data regarding the adsorbed species on organometallic thin films. This is valuable for diagnosing performance issues and potential sources of contamination in the production chain. Additional application areas include outgassing studies from metals used in fusion reactors and particle accelerators with more standard metal outgassing applications.

With a real-time 3D bar view, unknown elements can be rapidly and easily identified against the mass spectrometer’s built-in mass spectral library. These capabilities can support optimisation of the manufacturing conditions for complex thin film systems such as organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells.

UHV-TPD studies are also focused on the outgassing properties of high performance materials used in extreme environments, with fully-automated temperature control and analysis enabling high-throughput TPD measurements of potential hydrogen containing materials. This can be used to determine the binding energy between covalent or interstitial metal hydrides and measure the point at which thermal instability causes hydrogen to desorb from the surface of the carrier.

UHV-TPD Workstation from Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical has been developing, manufacturing, and supplying cutting-edge quadrupole mass spectrometers for some of the most advanced forms of material analysis currently performed. Our UHV-TPD workstation provides a unique solution for advanced electronics manufacturing and research and development into novel energy storage materials.

If you would like any more information about Hiden’s UHV-TPD workstation, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

Quantifying Conductivity with Mass Spectrometers

Borane (BH3) is a simple molecule comprising a central borate atom ionically bound to three hydrogen atoms. It is a highly reactive molecule with numerous derivative compounds including metal borohydrides; a unique family of solids with outstanding ionic conductivities. Materials scientists and chemists have recognized standard borane and various metal borohydrides as potential hydrogen storage devices due to their unusual ionic behaviors. Various borohydrides have also been earmarked as suitable electrolytes in solid-state lithium-ion batteries.

Quantifying Conductivity with Mass Spectrometers

Mass spectrometers have been employed in studies assessing the conductivity of metal borohydrides to help characterize the thermodynamic properties and electrochemical stability of borate compounds with different electrode materials. It is vital that the stability of borohydride compounds is measured at low to high voltages to help determine the real-world applicability of the material in energy storage applications. More important is the complete elimination of moisture content to ensure that thermal stability values are solely applicable to dry, purified samples.

This scope of research has been expanded to include so-called higher borane compounds such as silver closo borane. These compounds are synthesized in laboratory conditions, displaying the chemical formulae Ag2B12H12 and Ag2B10H10. Synthesis simply requires the metallic borohydride to be complexed with silver in an aqueous solvent, resulting in high-purity silver closo borane. This metallic silver electrolyte is then reduced using the electron beam of a transmission electron microscope (TEM). Before conductivity quantification, however, removal of residual water must be assured by a residual gas analysis (RGA) mass spectrometer.

Analysts have relied on mass spectrometers to demonstrate the multifunctionality of unique silver compounds, including high ionic conductivities and semiconducting behavior at room temperature.

Quadrupole Mass Spectrometers for Quantifying Borane Conductivity

Hiden Analytical’s HPR-20 quadrupole mass spectrometer has been used to monitor the release of gases to ensure that borane samples are completely water-free prior to conductivity analysis. This is a critical stage of sample processing as even trace levels of water can affect the measured values of thermal stability.

A full gas spectrum was measured at elevated temperatures to examine the thermal decomposition of the sample during mandatory processing. Studying the residual gases of samples during dehydration is an important factor to measure for conductivity analysis. It is a routine process that ensures the total elimination of cross-contamination and sample moisture content to evaluate the efficiency of synthesis techniques and material purity.

The HPR-20 quadrupole mass spectrometer successfully demonstrated its capacity for conductor and semiconductor sample preparation for ion conductivity analysis.

Mass Spectrometers from Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of mass spectrometers for industrial and academic applications. We are committed to providing unique analytical systems that exceed the expectations of chemists and materials scientists in cutting-edge fields of research, including the semiconductor and alternate energies sector.

If you would like any more information about our mass spectrometers, please do not hesitate to contact us.