Recent technological advances have vastly improved the mass range and resolution capabilities of mass spectrometers, while making these instruments more versatile and easier to use.

“We can work with smaller and smaller amounts of material because the instrumentation sensitivities have improved so drastically over the last few years,” says J. Carter Cook, director of VG Instruments’ laboratory in Savannah, Georgia.

Other improvements include advances in computerization that permit more rapid processing of spectrometer information and improvements in ionization techniques, which give samples of the electric charge needed for detection and analysis. New ionization techniques have also allowed a greater variety of chemicals to be analyzed. The instruments use ions for their primary function: the identification and analysis of mass’ spectra, which are used to identify chemicals and deduce the structure of unknown compounds.

Part of mass spectrometry’s appeal is its versatility. The instruments can be modified to fit specific applications....

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?