Using Mass Spectrometers to Detect Nitric Oxide

Membrane inlet mass spectrometry (MIMS) is a technique used for the detection and measurement of particles that uses a mass spectrometer capable of separating analytes depending on their physiochemical properties. The typical application is the quantitative analysis of a suspension or solution of a gas in liquid.

The key to the MIMS process is the thin, semipermeable membrane that allows particles from the bulk liquid sample to be introduced to mass spectrometer, without the system becoming flooded. This direct feed means nano-scale particles in the liquid, whether suspended or dissolved, can be accurately measured in real time, with sub-parts per billion detection levels.

MIMS equipment has in the past been used for a variety of industrial and research applications, including: soil core analysis; groundwater studies; environmental monitoring; and more. However, a recent study has put forward its use for the complex action of nitric oxide (NO) detection.

Due to the difficulty in its measurement, the biochemistry of nitric oxide is a topic of debate. What is known is that it is directly involved with many functions within the body including oxidative stress, cellular signaling, and vascular dilation, and this makes the ability to quantify NO an essential part of health research. There are several current and emerging ways for direct and indirect quantification of NO in liquid, but each one of these is limited by complicated considerations.

This study used a Hiden Analytical HPR-40 DSA membrane inlet mass spectrometer, to explore the potential of MIMS-enabled mass spectrometers to detect NO in a range of liquid solutions. The HPR-40 was outfitted with a quartz probe assembly in order to filtrate the NO particles generated chemically from solutions such as sodium nitrite and MAHMA NONOate. There is also the capacity to monitor enzymatic generation of NO by nitric oxide synthase.

This mass spectrometer setup mean that nitric oxide measurements could be directly and continuously measured from the fluid solutions with a lower detection limit of 10 nM and a linear response of 50 µM. The dissolved nitric acid in solution could then be continuously measured with only a 3-4 second lag: almost a real-time response. This promising research is ongoing.

MIMS Mass Spectrometers from Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical are experts in the design, development, and supply of dedicated quadrupole mass spectrometers for a range of applications. They have earned a reputation for providing bespoke instrumentation for both research and industry, customizing their intuitive machinery to each client’s specific needs.

The HPR-40 DSA MIMS system is a pre-configured mass spectrometer capable of performing accurate dissolved species analysis for gaseous particles in varying solutions. It features a mass range of up to 300 amu and an interchangeable membrane inlet probe suitable for variable specifications.

If you would like any more information about using a mass spectrometer for detection of nitric oxide or other gaseous particles, please send them a message.


(1) Goodwin, JM.; Chrestensen, CA.; Moomaw, EW.; Detection of Nitric Oxide by Membrane Inlet Mass Spectrometry, in Nitric Oxide: Methods and Protocols, 1st ed.; Mengel, A.; Lindermayr, C.; Eds.; Humana Press: USA, 2018.

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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