2020 Pittcon: Showcase of Innovations in Research and Instrumentation

The Pittcon annual conference and expo zoomed back to Chicago Illinois this year, March 1-5.

As a vital resource, this annual event focuses on the latest in lab instrumentation and provides a forum for the science that drives technology innovation. As science surges ahead and new products rapidly emerge, it’s invaluable to have this opportunity with which to explore new equipment and talk scientific shop. Here are a few highlights for this year’s show.

Presentations and Research

Cannabis research hit the main stage this year with a plenary presentation from Ziva Cooper, PhD, entitled “Cannabis Constituents and Novel Strategies to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic”. Perhaps less known than the mainstream cannabis exploits are the genuine possibilities for cannabis as a therapeutic for pain and to thwart relapse from deadly opioid addiction. As the research director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, Dr. Cooper’s progress using hypothesis driven approaches and double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies is much needed and valued in a landscape where such research is lacking appropriate quality and support.

The Wallace H Coulter lecturer this year was John A. Rodgers, PhD, presenting “Soft, Skin-interfaced Microfluid Systems for Capture and Analysis of Sweat”, an area that extends from Dr. Rodger’s research on nano-fabrication, novel electronic and photonic devices, and bio-integrated and bio-inspired systems.

Other areas of focus for Pittcon 2020 include talks focused on: Biomedical, Neurochemistry, Microfluidics, Pharma, Forensics and Toxicology, Food Science, Cannabis Science, and Mass Spec and Chromatography research applications. View the full program.

Instrumentation and Products

Perhaps equally as interesting and diverse were the instruments on display and exhibitors in attendance at this year’s conference. Here are a few.

Anton Paar develops, produces and distributes highly accurate laboratory instruments as well as process measuring systems and provides custom-tailored automation and robotics solutions worldwide. New developments include:

  • In chemical and petrochemical development and processing, flashpoint analysis is critical in characterizing the physical and safety profile of liquids. The new PMA500 instrument determines flashpoint by use of the Pensky-Martens method, detecting heating rate and related parameters using predefined or custom methods.
  • The International Anton Paar Research Prize is awarded each year to innovative research teams in the areas of instrument analysis and characterization. This year’s winning team comes from Graz University of Technology for their work on continuous flow calorimetry for highly reactive substances.

Axion Analytical Laboratories and Training Institute provides training and user development services for HPLC, GC, and Ion Chromatography methods and instrumentation. Modules include short courses, seminars, samples analysis, methods development, and consulting services.

Bruker instrumentation and expertise span the territory from mass spec imaging and NMR to analytical and applied spectroscopy and more.

  • In the realm of petrochemical analysis, new instrument solutions include the benchtop S2 PUMA for low detection limit Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF), and the S8 TIGER Wavelength Dispersive XRF analysis of drilling samples.
  • The benchtop S2 POLAR utilizes polarized optics for analysis of sulfur, nickel, vanadium, or chloride in crude oil samples or regulatory compliance applications.

More information on new elemental analysis instrumentation.

Edwards Vacuum is a global leader in vacuum technology, pushing the boundaries of science to deliver innovative products which are intrinsic to everyday life.

Fritsch Milling and Sizing offers high quality solutions for sample preparation and particle analysis, having over 100 years of expertise and industry experience.

  • New products include the ANALYSETTE 22 NeXT laser particle sizer, with two models and a range of measuring angles, a compact maintenance free design, and flexible programming and automatic evaluation processes.
  • The variable speed rotor Mil PULVERISETTE 14 premium line performs impact, shearing, and cutting comminution in one instrument. As a quieter and more efficient alternative to comparable instruments, it stands apart as the only variable speed rotor device on the market.

HORIBA Scientific  hosted a Raman Innovation Launch Party to unveil the newest Raman microcope and to meet the minds and personalities behind the technology. On the heels of the Duetta Fluorescence and Absorbance Spectrometer release and the 2019 Pittcon Today Excellence gold award at last years conference, this release comes with much anticipated fanfare.

LECO focuses on instruments and services in the areas of mass spectrometry, elemental analysis, thermal analysis, metallography, and other areas. Recent developments include:

Restek is a leader in end-to-end liquid chromatography hardware and consumables.

Shimadzu Scientific was the Diamond Sponsor this year, with networking opportunities, presentations and seminars, and a number of posters using Shimadzu instrumentation covering a wide range of applications.

  • The areas of Food Safety and Testing as well as Trends in Cannabis and Hemp Analysis included topics such as, Food Contact Materials – Yet Another Source of Contamination in Our Food and Cannabis and Hemp: A 10,000 Foot View.
  • Technical talks and posters covered everything from, An Introduction to Valve Gas Chromatography Systems to Adding Value to the Analytical Workflows in the Digital Era and more.

Innovations and Awards

The Lab Gauntlet this year allowed visitors to test lab skills in a series of short one-minute challenging lab activities. The Nexus Theater, which featured live presentations on the Expo floor, included topics centered on Cannabis (Tuesday), Materials Analysis (Wednesday), Scientific Marketing Strategies (Thursday). Of course the bounty of awards presentations added to the already scientifically rich event at this year's meeting.


We at LabX.com were there as well, dicussing developments, new initiatives, and technical details of the latest lab innovations.