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AQTOF: Acqiris TOF-MS Signal Acquisition Solution

Fast and accurate capture of TOF signals

Covering your acquisition needs from entry to high-end TOF-MS systems

Acqiris AQTOF Solution primarily addresses the specific data acquisition and processing capabilities required for TOF-MS (Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry) applications. It can also be used efficiently in many time-domain pulse-analysis applications.

Acqiris' solution addresses the different needs of:

  • the detector pulse characteristics
  • the system measurement
  • and duty-cycle requirements.


The AQTOF Solution package contains:

  • ADC acquisition card or module (digitizer): Acqiris gives flexibility when designing your TOF-MS systems by providing two different form factors: PCIe card or Serial module.
  • Set of applicative Firmware for real-time FPGA processing and data-reduction on-board: Averaging, Peak detection and analysis, Thresholding, etc.
  • Associated Software Suite: device drivers and the SW tools required to install, operate, and maintain the AQTOF solution within your instrument.


Besides, Acqiris proposes a Software Development Kit to make integrating the AQTOF Solution smoother and more efficient within your application framework. It contains all the required SW components, programming examples, SW tools and allocated support for integrating and qualifying the AQTOF solution into your specific system environment.


1. Optimizing TOF signal Acquisition​

Acqiris signal acquisition cards are designed to provide unique signal fidelity thanks to a especially low-noise DC front-end using proprietary IC technology and patented front-end circuitry.

  • DC offset capability to shift the observable data window to place the input baseline close to FSR/2, optimizing the resolution for the unipolar input pulse waveform as provided by ion detector.
  • Proprietary Acqiris front-end amplifier to amplify the input analog signal before the ADC cores
  • Digital correction block in the FPGA to compensate the ADC cores non-linearity and interleave mismatches
  • Optional frequency equalization profile to improve the frequency response of the ADC Card and compensates for signal distortion (Customized frequency equalization profile can also be developed on demand).
  • Continuous Streaming with Triggers (CST) to simultaneously acquire waveforms and readout previously acquired records. Dedicated to applications requiring no trigger loss, this mode enables lower latency, longer acquisition duration.

2. AQTOF Solution features​

  • Baseline Stabilization: A configurable baseline estimator engine is tracking and removing the estimated baseline. A digital offset can then be applied to restore the original theoretical baseline.
  • Calibration at Target Voltage: this feature allows to minimize the apparent noise of the baseline and optimizing the effective dynamic range.
  • Decimated sampling rate with associated low pass filters: this mode can be used to safely lower the sampling rate to address longer flight time acquisition need, with a coarser time resolution. The low-pass filters prevent parasitic noise from alias  signal.
  • Programmable Self-Trigger:
    • The Self-Trigger feature provides a programmable and autonomous internal trigger signal generation. This output can be used to trigger your instrument.
    • It minimizes both the system jitter (during accumulation) and the synchronous noise.
  • Synchronized Serial Output (depending on the hardware): up to three  independent pulse generator outputs can be configured to provide a tight control of your instrument.  These programmable LVTTL control signals that are synchronous to the ADC sampling clock, minimizing the overall system jitter.

3. Real-time averaging​

The averaging mode improves the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of repetitive signals. The averaging is performed in real-time by accumulating successive recorded waveforms into an "accumulated record" which is then provided in output.

It efficiently reduces the amount of data to be transferred, while strengthening the intensity of low abundance compounds.

Depending on the HW capabilities, the number of accumulations can be up to 512K and the accumulated record length up to 1M points.

It is also possible to combine the Averaging mode with streaming to reduce the deadtime.


Noise Suppress Accumulation (NSA)

This feature is a thresholding capability aimed to identify rare peak events sitting on top of a noisy baseline. To  detect such signals in the presence of synchronous noise, the user can set a threshold that must be exceeded for each data value to be taken into account in the accumulation process.

4. Real-time peak detection and analysis - Peak Listing, Zero-Suppress​

The data reduction in real-time in the FPGA is an efficient solution to reduce the processing on the host. Besides, it becomes mandatory when working at a high sampling rate (4 GS/s and above) with a minimum deadtime.


The Zero-Suppress mode (ZS) mode identifies the signal of interest based on a user-defined thresholding level. Only the samples complying with the criteria are transferred to the host computer along with trigger and gate time-stamp information and the other samples are suppressed.

The original waveform reconstruction can be performed based the output data.


The real-time PeaK-Listing (PKL) is an acquisition mode for time-domain pulse application analysis. It allows to focus on the signal of interest, extract the key information and efficiently reduces the volume of data:

  • Acquisition of successive waveforms
  • Identification of the signal peaks (positive or negative)
  • Analysis of the peaks in real-time to extract their characteristics (such as the peak position, peak intensity, center of mass and peak area, etc...)
  • Direct transfer to the host of the list of peaks:  peak characteristics (selectable by the user) and accurate time-stamps.


The acquisition and analysis of a record can be performed while reading the peak list of previous records, minimizing the dead time.


Download the Acqiris Solution description for more details:

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