INTERVIEW with Dr. Norbert Klöpper

Head of Business Unit CBRNE, Bruker Optik, Germany.

What is the story of Bruker Corporation? And how would you describe the company today?

The formation of the Bruker Company is principally down to one man, Prof. Günther Laukien. Dedicating himself to NMR, he conducted post-doctoral studies in NMR Spectroscopy and in 1958 published a pioneering paper on high-frequency nuclear magnetic resonance. In 1960, he was appointed Professor for Experimental Physics in Karlsruhe and founded the company as a pioneer of commercial NMR. In the 1970’s the portfolio was expanded by the devolpment new infrared spectrometers. Launched in 1974, the IFS 110 was the beginning of a very successful product line that ultimately led to the foundation of the Bruker Optics division. Today, Bruker Optics offers a comprehensive vibrational spectroscopy product-line that includes both the world’s smallest benchtop FT-IR spectrometer for routine use, and the world’s highest resolution FT-IR for advanced research applications. In 1977 “Dr. Franzen Analysentechnik” was founded in Bremen. A few years later, in 1980, Bruker acquired this company and renamed it “Bruker-Franzen Analytik”, adding robust quadrupole mass spectrometers to the Bruker portfolio. That same year the first mobile detection system, the MM1, proved successful in both the civilian and military markets. This was the beginning of the CBRN product line within the Bruker Corporation. In 1990 a group of scientists from the former East-German Academy of Sciences joined Bruker and laid the foundation of the succesful Ion-Mobility-Spectrometry Technology. The CBRN Portfolio now a part of Bruker Optics, as a part of the Business Area, Gas Analysis, Raman and Trace Detection“ utilizing the synergies in the field of spectroscopy. Today, worldwide more than 6,000 employees are working on this permanent challenge at over 90 locations on all continents. Bruker continues to build upon its extensive range of products and solutions, its broad base of installed systems and a strong reputation among its customers. Being one of the world's leading analytical instrumentation companies, Bruker is strongly committed to further fully meet its customers’ needs as well as to continue to develop state-of-the-art technologies and innovative solutions for today's analytical questions. In a nutshell, 60 years of innovation. What are your main technologies in the field of CBRNE Detection and what do you believe are the main qualities that differentiate Bruker’s products from the competition?

We are utilizing various technologies, from Gas Chromatography/Quadrupol Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) to Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FT-IR) technology, from Ion Mobility Spectrometry ( IMS) to Radiation detection. I think that this broad range of technologies seperates us from the competiton in conjunction with a lot of experience not only from the scientific but as well from the operational side. This allows us to support customers and system integrators at a level which is unique in the market. This as an example is the reason that we are the only company which is capable to equip submarines with a CRN detection system and has been proven on the international market. What are your latest developments in the field?

We will launch this year two new products, one is the maritime version of the RAPIDplus. We have re-designed the system to meet the specific environmental challenges within the naval area. A clear focus here was the improved maintainability and the use of selected materials withstanding the corrosive environment whilst maintaining the analytical capabilities. The other one will be an improved version of our hand-held ETD „RoadRunner“.

RAPIDplus is a second-generation stand-off detector designed for passive remote sensing of hazardous clouds (gas and vapour) at ranges of up to 5km. RAPIDplus is designed for a wide range of applications whether that be static 24/7 long term monitoring or mobile detection mounted on vehicles, helicopters or ships.

Being a leading company in the field of CBRNE, how did Bruker contribute to the fight against COVID-19?

With the recent situation the response to COVID-19 is more in the clinical/diagnostical area instead of CBRNE detection. As an example the FluoroType® SARS-CoV-2 plus is a CE-IVD kit, which provides for the detection of two independent SARS-CoV-2 genes while simultaneously differentiating endemic human coronaviruses. The multiplex real-time PCR kit is compatible with a range of common thermocyclers. This is a product of Hain Lifescience GmbH - a Bruker company. Can you also explain what is the COVID-19 NMR Initiative that you are partnering?

As a collaborative, collective initiative spanning the globe, Covid-19 NMR aims to accelerate NMR characterization of SARS-CoV-2 proteins and RNA, and make the results publicly available to advance further research on the structure, dynamics, and interactions of these viral biomolecules. These studies will advance understanding of SARS-CoV-2 biology at the molecular level and help accelerate drug discovery efforts. Bruker offers measurement time in Bruker Facilities and support in maintenance of spectrometers of the participants additionally we supply equipment and offer analysis software to support this important initiative. Bruker also offers a range of training courses for advanced operators, covering topics such as system operation, maintenance and theory. Could you describe this activity?

Our experiences show, that comprehensive training is as important to the success of the mission as the use of high quality equipment. For this purpose we offer our customers tailored training courese on the different instruments but on the system level as well. As an example in our Leipzig facility we have a fully equipped simulator of a generic recconaissance vehicle tot rain or customers in operation sampling and maintenance.

Talking about maintenance, the regular service of equipment is a very important part of mission success too. Here our aim is to enable our customers and partners to do service tasks themselves to reduce down times and increse system availability. For this we offer Deep-Level Maintenance (DLM) trainings Any other comments / final word to describe Bruker’s vision and objectives for the future?

Bruker has been driven by the idea to always provide the best technological solution for each analytical task. This will be our mission for the future: „Innovation with Integrity“.

Born in 1970 in the Leipzig area, Dr Klöpper is a physicist by education, holding a Ph.D. in chemical physics with a special focus on IR spectroscopy. Dr Kloepper joined Bruker in the year 2000 as a software developer and has been active in the CBRNE arena since 2002. He worked his way through the ranks of Bruker relatively quickly and has held the positions of Product manager from 2002 to 2004 and R&D manager from 2004 to 2008. Here he represented Bruker in many international research projects such as IMPACT, LOTUS and IMSK . In 2008 he became the Director of Sales & Marketing.