Insights from industry

Inorganic Ventures: An Industry Leader in Certified Reference Materials

BANNER insights from industryMike BoothTechnical DirectorInorganic Ventures

In this interview conducted at Pittcon 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we spoke to Mike Booth, Technical Director at Inorganic Ventures.

Please could you introduce yourself and your role at Inorganic Ventures?

My name is Mike Booth, and I am currently the technical director at Inorganic Ventures. I oversee the quality control groups and our R&D team.

What is Inorganic Ventures, and what is its core range?

Inorganic Ventures was founded over 35 years ago. We like to say that we are chemists working for chemists, and we provide certified reference materials and calibration standards for all sorts of analytical testing instruments.

What are some of the specific applications that the company targets?

Specifically, we do calibration standards for ICP-OES, ICP-MS, and ion chromatography. We do pH standards, conductivity standards, and titrants. A lot of our work goes into custom standards. Basically, if the customer has a specific method that they run and cannot find a standard, we can make a custom one for them.

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Could you define what are certified reference materials and what role they play in a successful workflow?

A certified reference material is a standard of comparison; essentially, the instrument cannot tell you what the concentration of a particular element is without having something to compare it to.

We provide those standards of comparison or certified reference materials. They are accredited to ISO17025 and 17034, making them very high-level standards or certified reference materials.

In short, certified reference materials are essential. The first thing users have to run is a set of calibration standards. Calibration standards run first, and then their samples are run through. The accuracy of those calibration standards is critical to ensure that the decisions they make based on those samples are accurate.

Why is it so important to be able to have custom solutions for your customers?

Many of our customers have a wide variety of sample types – it could be wastewater, e-scrap, or a number of different things. When you are testing for those materials, you have to account for any interferences, matrix effects, or anything in the sample that you are not looking for but affects how the sample behaves in the instrument.

Inorganic Ventures: An Industry Leader in Certified Reference Materials - Pittcon 2023

All of those things matter when it comes to ensuring you are getting accurate results. Custom standards allow the customer to contact us and put together standards that will accurately match the type of samples they are running.

Are there any problems that might arise from these kinds of reference materials or in creating these reference materials?

When we put these custom-certified reference materials together in the lab, we must consider chemical compatibility. Some elements do not like each other. They do not play nice.

Our job is to ensure that everything is done the right way to make sure that they work together and are stable so that the end user can receive them in their lab and use them throughout the life of the product.

Has this custom offering positively impacted the company's research and development and its overall leadership in the industry?

We have learned so much about putting custom-certified reference materials together, and we now have a library of over 66,000 combinations.

We have learned a great deal about what elements go together, what type of matrix they need, and what interferences will pop up based on the customer's instrument.

We learn just as much from our customers as they learn from us. If they call up and see something that is not acting quite right, we have a good library of resources to help them.

Over the last decade, Inorganic Ventures has also created an available library of chemistry resources. Why was it important for the company to develop this?

It goes all the way back to our company's founder Dr. Paul Gaines. Once you get in and start talking to customers, you discover common themes for analysts.

The first time that many of our customers may have ever run one of these instruments was when they were hired for the job. In school, you are never taught how to run these types of instruments, troubleshoot them, and troubleshoot samples.

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Image Credit: l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock.com

We want to make sure that, with the decisions our customers make, we are able to provide them with the most accurate standards. We also want to ensure they have an adequate understanding of how to make those decisions.

It is really important that we have that library out there. Our website also has white papers and an interactive periodic table that our customers love. We also do webinars and training sessions.

What more could others in industry or academia do to help promote being able to go straight into industry and do these kinds of summarizations?

I think the biggest thing is just to talk with each other more. There is a wide variety of sample types out there. The instruments themselves will vary from model to model, but they all operate in the same fashion. The sample type is the only difference. If everyone talks to each other just a little more, we will be able to learn so much more about different sample types.

Looking more toward Inorganic Ventures' current activities, are there any developments that you are currently working on or that you are really excited about?

At Pittcon 2023, we first launched our reagents for discrete analyzer instruments. This is a new realm for us. We have done reagents in the past, but these are specific to discrete analyzer instrumentation.

After speaking to users of those instruments, we soon became aware of the bottlenecks of making these reagents in their lab; they are time-consuming and do not last for very long. Thus, our customers constantly have to remake them.

To help overcome these limitations, our R&D team got to work, and we actually purchased one of these instruments. We spent time running samples on it and running stability studies.

As a result of our efforts, we were able to launch the first four reagent methods at Pittcon: sulfate, phosphate, chloride, and ammonia. We hope to develop more methods as soon as we get to a certain point in our stability study. Once we are certain that we can get the reagents to the customer and that they remain stable, we plan to stagger the release of further methods throughout 2023.

What are the benefits of industry professionals and academics attending in-person events like Pittcon?

The main advantage is getting a chance to see what is out there. It is one thing to see it through a computer screen. It is another thing to see it in person.

The conversations that you will hear, and the opportunities to interact with others, are so important. You will find yourself talking to people that may not necessarily seem like you have a lot in common with, but once you start talking to them about the troubles that you run into in the lab or the types of samples that you run, you will find out there is a wealth of knowledge out there that we can all learn from each other.

Looking toward the future, what are you most looking forward to about the next Pittcon in San Diego?

The biggest thing I love about Pittcon is working the booth and talking to our customers. I have spent so long in the lab that I see what our customers order and can look at the paperwork and test the blend.

It is great to have the chance to actually talk to our customers and ask them about what they use their reagents for, as well as discuss some of the challenges that they have encountered throughout their work. This is one of the things I always look forward to the most. Walking around and seeing what is out there in person is also such an invaluable thing.

About Mike Booth

Mike Booth is a chemist with expertise in quality control and instrumentation.Image  His experience covers areas including ICP-OES, ICP-MS, Ion Chromatography and various titration techniques. Today Mr. Booth is the Technical Director at Inorganic Ventures. He received a B.S. in Chemistry from West Virginia University Institute of Technology.

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This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Pittcon.

For more information on this source, please visit Pittcon.

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