Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that measures the mass-to-charge ratio of charged particles. It is used for determining masses of particles, for determining the elemental composition of a sample or molecule. MS instruments consist of three modules: an ion source, which splits the sample molecules into ions; a mass analyzer, which sorts the ions by their masses by applying electromagnetic fields; and a detector, which measures the value of an indicator quantity and thus provides data for calculating the abundances of each ion present. The sample has to be introduced into the ionisation source of the instrument. Once inside the ionisation source, the sample molecules are ionised, because ions are easier to manipulate than neutral molecules. These ions are extracted into the analyser region of the mass spectrometer where they are separated according to their mass (m) -to-charge (z) ratios (m/z) . The separated ions are detected and this signal sent to a data system where the m/z ratios are stored together with their relative abundance for presentation in the format of a m/z spectrum .
The analyser and detector of the mass spectrometer, and often the ionisation source too, are maintained under high vacuum to give the ions a reasonable chance of travelling from one end of the instrument to the other without any hindrance from air molecules. The entire operation of the mass spectrometer, and often the sample introduction process also, is under complete data system control on modern mass spectrometers.
The field of mass spectrometry has gone tremendous change which can be seen from large number of advances reported on every component of mass spectrometer. The mass spectroscopy helps in accurate molecular weight measurements, reaction monitoring, amino acid sequencing, oligonucleotide sequencing, etc.
- Teacher: Gajanan Rashinkar CHEM