The Research Park of St Petersburg University is to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to support the University's world-class research in chemistry and biology as part of the ‘Science’ National Project financed from federal budget resources.

In 2020, the Research Park of St Petersburg University is to purchase the following equipment:   

  • timsTOF Pro (Bruker Daltonik GmbH)
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific Volumescope 2 SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope)
  • LCMS-9030 Quadrupole Time-of-Flight (Q-TOF) Mass Spectrometer
  • LECO Corporation TruSpec Micro CHNS
  • EDX-8100P Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer
  • XtaLAB Synergy-S Single Crystal X-Ray Diffractometer

Among the high priority instruments in the list is the timsTOF Pro instrument to study metabolomics and proteomics. It has been shown to successfully deliver significantly higher speed and sensitivity in a data-dependent shotgun proteomics workflow. It enables researchers to find and identify more than 1,000 proteins and metabolites. The timsTOF Pro can provide information about almost everything around us: starting from the ancient organisms to various conditions and illnesses.

Today, the scientific community has no illusions that the information stored in the genome cannot provide evidence to find an answer to all questions. The genome cannot tell us about how the virus enters a cell, how the allergies occur, what causes an autoimmune response, or how medication works in our body. These are all functions of proteins in our body. To study proteins is therefore crucial. The metabolites are the products and intermediates of cellular metabolism. In other words, they are the result of all the processes that occur in our body. The timsTOF Pro gives us an opportunity to separate the charged fragments according to their masses, thus making the time slices and taking a deeper look at what is happening in there.

Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research at the University

Another instrument on the list is the LCMS-9030 Quadrupole Time-of-Flight (Q-TOF) Mass Spectrometer, that is a quadrupole time-of-flight liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer that performs both electrospray ionisation (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation (APCI). It enables us to obtain chromatographs and determine the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) with an error of less than 1.00 ppm, while the absolute error in chemical analysis can be at least 10%, even by using the well-established techniques and methods with the 1-2-3 algorithms.

The mass spectrometers with high sensitivity and resolution define new performance standards for measuring the exact molecule mass and determining the isotopic composition of elements in a molecule. It enables us to obtain clues about molecular structure. Today, any fundamental research in chemistry, bio-chemistry, physics, or biology is almost impossible without evidence for molecular structure obtained by using the mass spectrometers of high resolution.

Sergey Mikushev, Vice-Rector for Research at the University

The LECO Corporation TruSpec Micro CHNS is also on the list. The TruSpec Micro delivers optimal performance in carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulphur, and oxygen determination in solid or liquid micro samples. It enables us to confirm the calculated composition of the substance. The substance is pure if the error is 0.3% between the obtained data on the composition and the calculated composition. The instrument will extend the range of the CHNS- analysers currently available at the University and bring a new level of precision, accuracy, and speed of analysis. The relative standard deviation (RSD) in analysis of carbon content can be as low as +/− 0.001 mg in the samples weighing 2 mg. In other words, if the carbon content in the sample is 70%, the RSD is 0.07 %. It is just incredible.

The EDX-8100P Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer is applied for non-destructive elemental analysis of solid, powder and liquid samples, excluding those that X-rays can cause changes in composition. No or minimal sample preparation is required in analysis of, say, organic and non-organic substances, rocks, soils, glass, alloys, and other materials.

The Thermo Scientific Volumescope 2 Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) is a state-of-the-art serial block-face imaging system to unravel the complex architecture of cells. It combines serial block-face 3D imaging with multi-energy deconvolution. Before, we could obtain only slices of a cell to study its structure. The VolumeScope 2 was initially intended for analysis of synapses as they are the most difficult to study. Now the technology is used in various fields of biomedicine.

The XtaLAB Synergy-S Single Crystal Microfocus X-Ray Diffractometer is for small molecule 3D structure analysis with a high-speed detector and controlled temperature of heating a crystal up to 1,000°С. It enables us to decode an atomic structure of the materials and minerals at extreme temperatures. Before, the sample temperature was only 350 °С. It will enable to obtain a model of the materials in the non-standard conditions to solve the tasks that call for high resolution and non-standard conditions. It will also enable us to determine the thermal tolerance of the new substances and model the conditions of the naturally occurring high-temperature processes.

The estimated cost of the equipment is 273,805,277.07 roubles. The University was awarded the grant from the federal budget as part of the federal project ‘Development of the cutting-edge infrastructure for R&D in the Russian Federation’ within the ‘Science’ National Project. The project aims to renew research equipment at the leading institutions in Russia.

‘In our grant application, we tried to include everything that our scientists had recommended. We assessed and analysed what our scientific community’s needs were. None of the instruments is unique as they have been quite extensively used in Russia and across the globe. What makes it unique is an opportunity to promote and encourage the sharing of equipment across the University and beyond as much of the Research Park’s infrastructure is available to everyone.  The Research Park accommodates the needs of a great number of the research groups from the University and other institutions in St Petersburg, Moscow, Novosibirsk, and other cities. We also try to engage with business on a sustainable basis. Thus, we aim to ensure that our research benefits wider publics across Russia and beyond,’ says the Vice-Rector for Research Sergey Mikushev.