June 9, 2020 | News & Notices World-leading precision in mass imaging together with optical observations
Release of the iMScope QT Imaging Mass Microscope

iMScope QT
iMScope QT

Shimadzu is announcing the introduction of the new “iMScope QT” imaging mass microscope, to be released on 9 June 2020. This revolutionary product, boasting world-class analysis speeds and imaging capabilities, comes with an in-built optical microscope and can also be used as a liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer. It is the successor to the “iMScope TRIO”, released 6 years prior.

An imaging mass microscope is a mass spectrometer with both a mass microscopy probe and an optical microscope. This enables analysis using both microscope images and compound distribution information from mass spectrometry, allowing target compound distributions in microscopic regions to be visualized. For example, when looking at a cancer-affected sample with a microscope, the application of quantitative information about anti-cancer drugs from mass spectrometry makes it possible to check whether the drug has been delivered appropriately. Global demand for fast, high-precision mass imaging technology has extended from a core of pharmaceutical and medical applications to diverse fields such as agriculture and food science. The iMScope QT is a product engineered to meet those expectations.

The iMScope QT offers a high-precision stage and extremely stable UV laser in combination with a quadrupole time-of-flight (Q-TOF) mass spectrometer. Together these achieve a world-leading spatial resolution of 5 μm, and compared to the previous model the iMScope QT boasts three times the mass resolution and five times the image acquisition speed. For example, the imaging of a mouse brain section (14 mm x 7 mm, resolution 20 μm pitch), which previously would have taken 4 hours, can be completed in around 50 minutes with the iMScope QT.

The mass spectrometer and microscope units can easily be coupled or detached by the user themselves. Removing the microscope section and installing a liquid chromatograph allows the system to be used as the “LCMS-9030” Q-TOF LC/MS system. Customers who already own an LCMS-9030 system can carry out imaging mass microscopy by purchasing only the microscope unit.

On the same 9 June release date, Shimadzu is unveiling the “iMLayer AERO” sprayer for MALDI imaging, which automates the matrix spraying* pretreatment process. Previously this step had to be carried out manually, which often resulted in unwanted clumping. This device sprays the sample evenly and consistently, generating results with a higher degree of reproducibility.

  • *Spraying the sample with a matrix allows the ionization of large molecules such as proteins, which traditionally could not be ionized and therefore were not possible to measure via mass spectrometry. This is an essential step in “soft laser ionization”, a technique for which Shimadzu Executive Research Fellow Koichi Tanaka was granted the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2002.

Shimadzu instruments provide total support for cutting-edge mass imaging research, offering superior technology and performance from pretreatment through to data analysis.

iMLayer AERO

iMLayer AERO

Key Product Features

1. Mass imaging with excellent spatial resolution for comparison with optical observations

The UV laser can produce an irradiation diameter as small as 5 μm. This provides excellent spatial resolution, and the images obtained are appropriate for comparison with high-resolution optical images. The power of this technology can be seen in the analysis of detailed regions of thin-layer tissues such as skin and membranes, making use of the information gathered from microscope observations.

2. High-specificity imaging with MS/MS techniques

With the high-performance LCMS-9030 system, precise molecular information can be obtained as high-specificity images. Combining this information with optical images allows for complex data analysis that is not possible with mass imaging alone.

3. High-speed analysis

The built-in ionization unit with microscope and 20 kHz laser has been newly-developed. In combination with the high-performance LCMS-9030, it can obtain imaging data in less than 1/5 the time taken by the previous model. It is well-suited for the screening of multiple samples.

4. Two systems in one with easy reconfiguration

The mass spectrometer and microscope units can easily be coupled or uncoupled. In addition to using these two units together as a imaging mass microscope, a LC/MS system can be formed by connecting a liquid chromatograph (sold separately). This contributes to higher productivity in shared equipment spaces.


The iMScope QT can be easily attached or detached from the LCMS-9030.

The iMScope QT can be easily attached or detached from the LCMS-9030.


This instrument is not available in the USA and may not be available in some other countries. Please contact your local Shimadzu representative for availability.


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iMScope QT
iMLayer AERO