5 Different Mass Spectrometer Techniques
Mass spectrometry is a highly sensitive and powerful analytical technique used to identify chemical substances by measuring the mass-to-charge ratio of their molecules. This technique is used frequently by biologists, chemists, environmental and forensic scientists, and many others for a range of qualitative and quantitative applications. Mass spectrometry is suitable for identifying unknown substances and determining the isotopic composition or structure of a compound, which is crucial for studying the biological, chemical, and physical properties of various substances. In this blog post, we take a look at 5 different mass spectrometer techniques and some of their applications.
GC-MS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry)
GC-MS is a combination of two analytical techniques: gas chromatography (GC) and mass spectrometry (MS). This method is used for studying solid, liquid, and gaseous samples by separating complex mixtures and identifying trace levels of contamination. Gas chromatography is used first to separate the sample, followed by using mass spectrometry to ionize and analyze the separated compounds. GC-MS is commonly used in drug detection, environmental analysis, and forensic science.1
LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry)
LC-MS is a powerful analytical method used to identify and quantify unknown and known compounds. During this process, a sample is physically separated with liquid chromatography and then ionized by mass spectrometry. This technique is used in analytical laboratories for drug detection, food processing, and trace analysis in the pharmaceutical industry due to its sensitivity, efficiency and versatility.2
MALDI-TOF (Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight)
MALDI-TOF is commonly used to identify and analyze a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, peptides, and proteins.3 For this technique, a matrix that absorbs UV light is mixed with the sample. This matrix then converts the UV light from a laser into heat energy to create ions from the sample, which are then separated based on their mass-to-charge ratio. A time-of-flight mass spectrometer is used to detect the ions of a sample, which is useful in clinical microbiology, as well as for proteomic and polymeric materials applications.
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SIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry)
SIMS is a widely used method of analyzing the surface properties of ceramics, metals, polymers, and other similar materials. This technique directs a primary beam of ions at the material’s surface, which causes secondary ions to be emitted. The secondary ions are analyzed by mass spectrometers, which enables the determination of the elemental and molecular composition of a sample.4 Common applications for SIMS instruments include materials science, semiconductor device analysis, and surface analysis.
ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry)
ICP-MS is an analysis method that uses inductively coupled plasma to ionize a sample and identify the elements present.5 It can identify almost every element on the period table and is widely used across a range of disciplines. This includes applications in biological, geological, medical, and metallurgical studies.
JEOL: Mass Spectrometry Solutions
JEOL offers a diverse range of mass spectrometers that can be used to identify, measure and analyze substances and their concentrations, which are crucial in many scientific experiments and research. Contact a member of JEOL today to learn more about mass spectrometers and their applications.