MKS Ramps Up Production of Portable Mass-Spectrometer-Based Helium Leak Detector

Dec. 3, 2001
MKS Instruments, Inc., a manufacturer of components and subsystems for vacuum- and gas-based processes, has announced that it is ramping up for volume production of a portable mass spectrometer-based leak detector, the MKS PICO Series.

MKS Instruments, Inc., a manufacturer of components and subsystems for vacuum- and gas-based processes, has announced that it is ramping up for volume production of a portable mass spectrometer-based leak detector, the MKS PICO Series. A beta test version of the PICO was shipped to selected customers earlier this year, and since then, the PICO has rapidly gained acceptance across a range of industries as a truly portable mass spectrometer-based leak detector. Weighing in at a mere 16 lbs., MKS' PICO is easily transported in a variety of industrial work settings, eliminating the need for pushcarts used to transport leak detectors that commonly weigh as much as 70 lbs.

Using a patent-pending ion trap mass spectrometer, the PICO Series leak detector is capable of detecting leak rates as low as 10-7 atm-cc/s from pressurized lines or enclosures and from vacuum chambers and provides reliable, stable and accurate leak measurements. The PICO is a "sniffing" style helium leak detector used to check for leaks in pressurized objects. This new portable helium leak detector is the latest product in MKS' mission to provide ultra-compact vacuum technology solutions that enhance productivity in multiple industries, including air-conditioning, refrigeration, automotive, chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, underground utilities, semiconductor, and many others.

"We are very excited to announce this product which meets the size, portability, and sensitivity requirements that our customers need to simplify their jobs," said Wayne Cole, Product Manager for PICO Products at MKS Instruments. "During our beta phase we were enlightened by some very important observations. Customers repeatedly cited the same attributes that set it apart from competing units: the unit's fast response and clean-up time, simple operation, and portability."

In addition to the ion trap mass spectrometer, the PICO has an integral vacuum system, which incorporates a turbomolecular pump as well as a backing scroll pump. Aided by the small volumes of the unit, the PICO boasts a very fast response and clean-up time. The unit measures approximately 4 inches wide, 15 inches long, and 10 inches high. The PICO includes an extremely simple-to-use touch screen interface that displays the current helium leak rate as well as historical leak rate data. With an adjustable audio signal, the instrument can be heard in very noisy environments encountered in some leak detection applications. The PICO also includes a rugged three-meter probe necessary for industrial environments. The unit includes a "zero" feature that compensates for background levels of helium often observed in production areas. This lightweight, self-contained unit is made possible by miniaturization of both the turbo-scroll pump vacuum system and the ion-trap mass spectrometer.

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