Pickering Laboratories

Onyx PCX Launch – Press Release


Next generation post-column derivatization instrument delivers on promise of “Guaranteed Chemistry”

Mountain View, California, Nov 25, 2019 – Environmental, pharmaceutical and feed laboratories now have access to the newest model of post-column derivatization instruments – the Onyx PCX.  Every component of this system has been optimized for post-column applications, thereby improving ease of use, reliability and ruggedness of analytical instrumentation. Onyx PCX is used in the analysis of amino acids, glyphosate, mycotoxins, antibiotics, cannabinoids and a variety of other applications. This latest instrument is part of the commitment Pickering Laboratories has to complete application support. Together with analytical columns, high-purity reagents, mobile phases and methods, the Onyx PCX post-column system supports Pickering Laboratories’ guarantee of method performance and chromatographic separation.

The Onyx PCX features a precisely programmable convectional column oven with temperature gradient capabilities and a fully inert flow path with ceramic syringe reagent pumps, PEEK electronic valves and PTFE reactor coils. All main components of the system are accessible from the front panel for ease of monitoring and maintenance. Following the tradition of Pickering Laboratories’ derivatization instruments, the Onyx PCX can be connected to any HPLC system, greatly expanding the LC’s capabilities.

“We are also very excited about new software features, such as extensive record-keeping capabilities and automated heaters calibration,” says Dr. Maria Ofitserova, Senior Research Chemist at Pickering Laboratories. “In addition to log files collecting real-time data on all instrument parameters for troubleshooting purposes, we now have the User Journal that allows laboratories to maintain records of completed runs, error messages, changes to methods and sequences.” She continues, “these and other details are important for audits and regulatory compliance. We also introduced an automated calibration feature for our heaters, which supports instrument performance qualification in the field.”

About Pickering Laboratories, Inc.:

Pickering Laboratories, Inc. manufactures analytical columns, high-purity reagents, and post-column derivatization instruments that enable specialized analysis with High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Equipment.  For nearly 40 years, Pickering Laboratories has offered its expertise and technical support to our customers in the environmental, clinicals and food markets to help them achieve the highest sensitivity and selectivity of analysis.  Our supported methods include the derivatization of Amino Acids, Carbamates, Glyphosate, Aminoglycoside Antibiotics, Polyether Antibiotics, Biogenic Amines, Aflatoxins, Paralytic Shellfish Toxins, and more.

Contact Information:

Rebecca Smith
Director of Operations
Pickering Laboratories, Inc.
1280 Space Park Way
Mountain View, CA 94043

Support Bulletin

by David Mazawa

Pinnacle PCX – End of Life Notice

Dear valued customer,

It is with a heavy heart that we stop production of the Pinnacle PCX post-column system. A myriad of production issues has led us to develop a replacement instrument. We have a limited number of new Pinnacle PCX components remaining that we can build with, so we plan to stop production on March 1, 2020 (while supplies last). However, we will have Pinnacle PCX replacement components available until January 2027 to support our customers’ ongoing maintenance and repair needs.

Onyx PCX – New and Improved Instrument 

We have taken this as an opportunity to improve on the Pinnacle PCX design! Our new instrument, the Onyx PCX, has the following improvements and highlights:


The color on the Onyx PCX was updated to be more modern and now the color gradient on the column compartment door mirrors its temperature gradient capability.


The Onyx PCX is slightly larger to allow easier access to the inner compartments. This makes assembly and maintenance easier and faster.

Reagent Tray

The Onyx PCX reagent tray is much larger and can now be used as secondary containment for the reagent bottles. In case of a spill, the reagent tray can hold much more liquid than the Pinnacle reagent tray. There are also handles for easy removal.


The new larger LCD shows more details of what the instrument is doing. This makes it easy to see the system’s status at a glance.


The Onyx PCX reactor is slightly smaller with more efficient heating and allows for field calibration by a trained engineer.

Pump and Valve Motors

The Onyx PCX Pump and Valve motors use different power than the Pinnacle PCX Pump and Valve motors. These are married to the board components and are not backwards compatible.

Column Compartment

No physical differences but we’ve enabled the Onyx PCX column heater to be calibrated in the field by a trained engineer.

Communication with PC

The Onyx PXC communicates exclusively via USB connection to the PC.


The Onyx PCX Control Software has a different look to match the new display.

User Journal

The new User Journal feature records method, sequence details, run times, changes, and error messages for audit compliance.

Contact Pickering Technical Support (support@pickeringlabs.com) for any questions or contact our Customer Service Team (orders@pickeringlabs.com) with quotation requests.

Party Time – Launching the Onyx PCX!

By Rudy Suez

As an avid craft beer drinker, it is not often that I partake in lighter, bubblier drinking options.  But I made an exception last week as I joined the rest of the Pickering Laboratories staff in a champagne toast to celebrate our big milestone.

It’s a festive season and hopefully as you read this, you’re preparing to huddle around the dinner table with family and friends for the holidays. At Pickering last week, we kicked off December by huddling around our very first Onyx PCX instrument leaving the production floor!

As you can see from our faces, it’s like we are kids opening presents again… but instead of unwrapping our first bike we are unveiling our newest Post-column instrument, the Onyx PCX.

We couldn’t have asked for a better send-off for our customer’s Onyx PCX – it spent the day before shipping surrounded by champagne, cookies and chocolate croissants, as well as plenty of smiles and high fives!!! We are absolutely thrilled to wrap up this extended product development project and see the instrument hit the open market. I can’t help but wonder who will be next customer to order this amazing instrument? Will it be you?! I hope so.

Lastly, as we celebrate this momentous occasion, we also know that as a small company, we could not have done this alone. Therefore, our team wants to make sure we thank all of the contract engineers and consultants that have worked so hard with us, past and present, to bring the project to completion. Without their support, we would never have been able to launch our new post-column instrument… and we think the Onyx PCX has turned out sleek and fabulous, if we do say so ourselves!

So, again, a big champagne cheers to the first production Onyx PCX!  And a bigger thank you all of our contributors, customers and future customers!  

New Products for 2019!

By David Mazawa

In case you’ve missed our recent activity, here is a summary of the new products we made available this year. Look for more exciting product testing solutions and post-column applications in the New Year!

1700-0165 Sodium AA Standard with Norleucine
Expanded amino acids standard for hydrolysate samples.

1700-0542 Sweat DIN EN – IEC 60068-2-70. Not Stabilized
1700-0543 Sweat DIN EN – IEC 60068-2-70. Stabilized
Abrasion of markings and letterings caused by rubbing of fingers and hands. This formulation is intended to provide a standard method to determine the resistance of markings and letterings on flat or curved surfaces against abrasion as it may occur by manually operating actuators and keyboards. The method is also suitable to test the resistance against fluid contamination as it may occur under normal use.

1700-0556 Artificial Apocrine Sweat non-stabilized 250mL.
Apocrine sweat is secreted by apocrine glands located in the areas of the body with an abundance of hair follicles such as the scalp, armpits and groins. Apocrine sweat is initially sterile and odorless but when acted upon by bacteria it forms odorous compounds. Artificial Apocrine Perspiration was developed to mimic the composition of human apocrine sweat and contains several volatile fatty acids that are responsible for the unpleasant odor associated with it. The ready-to-use solution is stored frozen and could be used for testing that requires the presence of malodor. It also could be used to culture bacteria that are commonly present on human skin.

1700-0557 ISO 3160, 19.8L, Stabilized
This formulation is used to determine corrosion (tarnishing, oxidation and surface penetration) resistance for gold alloy coverings on watch cases and accessories, including bracelets when they are permanently attached to the case. The solution is at pH 4.7 per ISO 3160 specifications.

1700-0558 Artificial Urine DIN EN 1616, Stabilized, 200mL
1700-0603 Artificial Urine DIN EN 1616-1999, 19.8L
Artificial Urine is prepared according to DIN EN 1616:1999 standard procedure. DIN EN 1616 specifies the method to test sterile urethral catheters. This ready-to-use solution should be stored frozen to avoid bacteria growth. The pH of the solution is 6.6.

1700-0800 Simulated Lung Fluid, Gamble’s, Not Stabilized, 200mL.
Gamble’s solution represents the interstitial fluid deep within the lung and is used to simulate different lung conditions. It is used in pulmonary drug delivery studies as well as in studies of particles inhalation effects. Citrate is used in Gamble’s solution instead of proteins to avoid foaming and acetate instead of organic acids. Gamble’s solution has a pH of 7.4. Inquire about other simulated lung fluid formulations.

1700-0801 Substitute Ocean Water, ASTM D1141-98
Substitute ocean water is prepared according to official ASTM method D1141-98. This product could be successfully used in a wide variety of tests where solution simulating sea water is required, such as oil contamination testing, detergent evaluation and corrosion testing. The pH of the solution is 8.2.

Chromatography Quiz #34

Chromatography Quiz #33: “What the Brij?”- RESULTS

Pickering Labs would like to congratulate all of our winners for our previous newsletter’s I’m not seeing any peaks! Carbamates edition Quiz: Tom Schneider from Suffolk County Water Authority, Narjes Ghafoori from LA County Environmental Toxicology Lab, and Jiufeng Fan from Glaxo Smith Kline, and Dr. David Green from Pepperdine University.

Winners will soon receive: An HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer! A fun-size, Bluetooth enabled, cherry-tomato, portable photo printer! Just in time for those holiday selfies with family and friends! Or even better, those festive ugly sweater parties with your colleagues! We’re looking forward to sharing plenty of selfies with Onyx, our 2020 influencer!

Congratulations to our quiz winners!

Thank you all for your submissions!


The correct answer for the “What the Brij” Quiz:

The Brij-35 prevents quenching of large molecules. When large molecules, like the Fumonisins derivatives, quench they fold in on themselves and can lead to a reduction in fluorescent signal.

Here is a lovely answer we received from one of our quiz entries, if you want to get more in depth:
The Brij-35 is a non-ionic surfactant that, as far as I’m concerned, is a nearly miracle additive to HPLC eluent buffers to improving retention characteristics of strongly adsorbed proteins from the column surface. In my experience, it has the added […] benefit of enhancing the fluorescence intensity of the fluorescent derivative produced in the post-column reactor. The fluorescence enhancement is due to the derivative being trapped in the non-polar core of the Brij micelle. This enhancement can be extremely significant: 100s x improvement in sensitivity. It is well-established that a non-polar chemical environment improves fluorescent quantum efficiency by stabilizing the HOMO-LUMO molecular orbitals.

Chromatography Word Puzzle #34

Correctly complete the word puzzle below and win a prize! Simply email your answer and your full contact information to Rebecca at rlsmith@pickeringlabs.com by January 31st, 2020 in order to win. You will receive email confirmation when your submission is received, and the troubleshooting answer and winner congratulations will be published in the next issue (to be anonymous, please notify Rebecca in submission).






Farewell to Mike and Welcome to Rudy and Yuliana! Or, How We Spent Our Summer.

By Rebecca Smith

This year, our fiscal year kicked off with an extra special party – we combined our New Year’s bash with an Independence Day celebration, plus Mike Gottschalk let us roll out the red carpet and sparklers for a champagne toast to celebrate his retirement!  Talk about a party – we had a circus theme for the event and several people came in costume! 

Here we see Mike Gottschalk, retiring in style! Judy Pickering and Jim Murphy are ready for the fantastic BBQ catered lunch. Several people took advantage of the photo props, including Sareeta Nerkar, Gloria Garcia and Rebecca Smith. Also, we wanted to share plenty shots of President Murphy clowning around!

Everyone had a great time and we sincerely wish Mike all the best of luck in his retirement – Mike, may you delight in spending time with your grandkids and still find plenty of hours for golf!  Cheers and thank you for your many years of service!

The Pickering staff came back from the long holiday weekend recharged and ready for the start of the fiscal year!  New hire Maureen was just hitting her 90-days at Pickering and we thought the excitement was winding down around the lab…  That is, until we jumped headfirst into the deep-end of the hiring pool once more! 

With Mike’s retirement fresh in our minds, we began our search for a new Customer Service Manager to join our team.  We searched high, we searched low, we searched Indeed. 

As a result, we’d now like to introduce you to Rudy Suez, the newest – scratch that, second newest – employee to join Pickering!  Rudy joins us from his previous employer, where he managed the Inside Sales and Customer Service team that supported Veterinary Chemistry and Hematology customers for the last several years.  For our team, Rudy will be managing our Customer Service team as well as looking for new ways to impact our sales and customer experiences. 

When he has free time, Rudy enjoys hitting the gym on weeknights and road-tripping down to Disneyland whenever he can get away for a weekend.  You might have already spoken with him on the phone over the last couple of weeks, but next time feel free to ask him about Space Mountain while placing your order!

Here is Rudy while on a trip to Santiago, Chile.

Rudy got a chance to meet some of you at this year’s AOAC International conference and he can’t wait to continue building relationships with more of our customers.  He’s still has plenty to learn but he’s friendly and enthusiastic, so don’t be shy to share a little bit about your company and post-column application of choice, if you have the time!  Rudy would welcome contact via email or feel free to call him up and have a chat.

Rudy Suez, looking friendly as he represented Pickering at this year’s AOAC meeting in Denver!

And finally, speaking of new employees, we’d also like to briefly introduce Yuliana Lopez, our brand-new admin-of-all-trades!  Yuliana will be cross-training with Diana over the next several weeks and learning how to route your calls, take your orders, send your invoices and generally provide full-service customer support!

Yuliana Lopez and Diana Ancira, seen here mind-melding and being fabulous!

In her spare time, Yuliana enjoys watching anime, reading books and unleashing her creative genius on hair and makeup as a licensed cosmetologist!  If you’d like to say hello and welcome her to the team, she can be reached by email or by walking through the Pickering front door!  Otherwise, she can be reached along with Diana and Gloria at our orders@pickeringlabs.com email address!

Attending NACRW and Enjoying Florida

By Sareeta Nerkar

The North American Chemical Residue Workshop (NACRW), formerly known as the Florida Pesticide Residue Workshop, was held in Naples, Florida. For the 56th consecutive year, laboratory professionals met to discuss the latest trends in the analysis of pesticides, veterinary drugs and other chemical residues. The big topics at this meeting were cannabis analysis, novel and emerging contaminants in drinking water and food matrices, and finally trends in veterinary drug residue control. Sareeta Nerkar and Maria Ofitserova both attended this year, representing Pickering Laboratories at our booth and in several key technical and vendor presentations.

Broader acceptance of cannabis for medical use has increased the need for analytical methods capable of determining the active compounds as well as methods to detect contaminants such as pesticide residues, mycotoxins and traces of organic solvents. Cannabinoids are a class of terpenophenolic compounds that are associated with the pharmacological activity of cannabis. Cannabinoids exist in the plant mainly as carboxylic acids that are not physiologically active. The compounds are converted to neutral analogs by light and heat while in storage or during the preparation of edible products. Acids are also converted to their neutral analogs during GC analysis, which often causes differences in testing results when compared with HPLC analytical methods.

Pickering Laboratories has developed a new post-column derivatization method to analyze cannabinoids in cannabis plants and cannabis-containing edible products. This post-column method is based on reaction with Fast Blue Salt reagent under basic conditions, a well-known color-forming reaction that is used in drug tests to detect cannabinoids via test-tube methods and thin-layer chromatography. After derivatization, detection at 475 nm is performed using a UV/Vis detector. The same post-column method was used for analyzing cannabinoids in hemp but with a modified sample preparation procedure that was easier and faster.

At the NACRW conference, there was considerable interest in the Pickering Laboratories methods for testing cannabinoids and mycotoxins in hemp because they are simple, robust and economical.

Sareeta Nerkar enjoyed giving her oral presentation on Improved Extraction and Cleanup Prior to HPLC Determination of Glyphosate in Food Samples!  Her talk presented a simple and robust post-column method for the analysis of Glyphosate at sub-ppm levels in many different types of foods. The method’s accelerated sample preparation improves throughput of the samples and reduces testing costs for busy laboratories.  Many laboratories are looking for accelerated sample preparation and analysis of glyphosate at low levels with no matrix interferences, and Pickering Laboratories has the answer!

Sareeta also shared her poster on Analysis of Mycotoxins in Cannabis Plant and Cannabis-containing Products, which was well received.  Please always feel free to contact us for more information or check out our webpage.

Pickering Laboratories sponsored a lunch vendor seminar during tne conference, where Maria Ofitserova introduced the Onyx PCX, the newest addition to our integrated family of post-column derivatization instruments, chemistry and support.  The seminar included all the Onyx PCX instrument features as presented by Maria, then Sareeta followed up by presenting our latest research and method development on hemp!

All of the Pickering Laboratories presentations are available on the NACRW website.  Overall, Maria and Sareeta had a great conference and really appreciated all of your interest in our latest Onyx PCX and new post-column methods and applications!

Guaranteed Chemistry

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