Mass Spectrometry Learning Center

What is mass spectrometry?

Mass spectrometry (MS) is a technique that analyzes ions based on their mass-to-charge (m/z) ratio to determine their identity and quantity in simple and complex mixtures. Mass spectrometers typically consist of an ionization source, an analyzer and a detector.

Ion Source › Mass Analyzer › Ion Detector › Computer

The introduced sample is ionized inside the ionization source, after which it is accelerated, under vacuum, through electric and magnetic fields. Ions deflect and separate, and the radius of their path (and their eventual location on the detector) is a function of their masses. Spectral data are then generated through integrated computers and software platforms.

MS is used to analyze a wide variety of compounds, from petrochemicals to proteins. It has been applied to carbon dating, isotope enrichment, water quality testing, drug discovery, pharma/biopharma, environmental impact studies, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, forensic toxicology and sports doping. Certain spacecraft and satellites make use of on-board MS systems to perform assessments of solar and planetary events.

Mass spectrometry features

Mass spectrometry subtopics