Mass Spectrometers - How They Work

Mass spectrometry is a powerful analytical technique that can be used in many ways including identifying unknown compounds in a sample, measuring how much of a known material makes up a sample, and analyzing the chemical properties or structure of a particular molecule.

It does this by measuring how ionizing energy effects molecules and uses the chemical reactions within the gas phase to obtain results.

This procedure can be described in more detail, with the mass spectrometer bombarding the sample with electrons which ionize the compounds within the sample. Once multiple ions are produced they fragment, and each one can be plotted by the mass spectrometer depending on their unique mass-to-charge ratio. It can then clearly be seen how much of each type of ion is present in the sample.

Mass Spectrometer Components

There are three basic components to the mass spectrometer: the ion source, the analyzer, and the detector system.

The ion source is used to ionize part of the sample into a gas, which is measured. The analyzer measures the mass-to-charge ratio of each of the ions and sorts them accordingly, after which the detector calculates the amount of each ion and records it.

Mass Spectrometer Process

Mass spectrometry begins with the ionization of the atoms, or when the atom loses or gains electrons and develops a positive or negative charge. The standard mass spectrometer uses positive ions.

After the ions have been generated, they pass through an electric and magnetic field to give them the same kinetic energy and deflect them based on their mass-to-charge ratio. This deflection is how the ions are sorted; the heavier the ion the less it is deflected. Finally, once they are grouped, the atoms pass through the detector.

Mass Spectrometers from Hiden Analytical

For over 35 years Hiden Analytical has been working on and improving mass spectrometers. They are used in various field for a wide variety of applications including gas analysis, catalysis, thermal analysis, surface engineering, and surface analysis.

They have a large range of products and are able to manufacture their spectrometers in different configurations and for mass ranges of 100 – 5000 AMU. This versatility allows them to offer products capable of analyzing a variety of volatile organic, metal organic, and inorganic compounds.

If you would like any more information about their range of mass spectrometers, please send them a message.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hiden Analytical.

For more information on this source, please visit Hiden Analytical.


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