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Mass spectrometers allow scientists to identify unknown compounds by measuring the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) of molecules and atoms. Three major components of a mass spectrometer is the 1) Ion source 2) Analyzer and 3) Detector systems. Samples submitted to a spectrometer is processed with electrons and ultimately ionized to become charged and fragmented.
The application for your mass spectrometer rental will determine the type of ionization source needed, usually identified as soft or hard ionization. Hard ionization will typically fragment molecules more than soft ionization.
Know the type of ionization you require.
Hard ionization, including electron ionization (EI) results in more fragmented samples, which yields highly detailed mass spectra. The result of EI is more residual energy compared to the soft ionization methods. Examples of soft ionizations include fast atom bombardment (FAB), chemical ionization (CI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI).
Know the type of mass spectrometer you need.
There are multiple types of mass spectrometers. Knowing your application and specimen is key to determining which mass spectrometer to rent. Based on your application, your performance requirements will help you determine the power you need. Renting a mass spectrometer with too much power might be more expensive or detrimental to your project. In general, there are 3 types of mass spectrometers: standalone, integrated, and hybrid mass spectrometers.
Standalone Mass Spectrometers
- ICP-MS: Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry
ICP-MS applications are generally for environmental, food and beverage, and metabolomics research. Samples are typically metals and non-metals. This type of spectrometer for excellent sensitivity and range.
- FT-ICR: Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance
FT-ICR applications are for pharmaceutical, sports, metabolomics, proteomics, and biomarkers. Samples include analyses that require high resolution. Examples include metabolites, proteins, non-volatile, polar organics, and peptides. This is a very high-end, powerful mass spectrometer used in life science and research industries.
- IMS-MS: Ion Mobility Spectrometry-Mass Spectrometry
IMS-MS have many applications including clinical research, environmental testing, metabolomics, pharmaceutical, food and beverage testing, proteomics, and biomarkers. Samples include proteins, volatile and non-volatile, and polar organics.
- MALDI-MS: Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry-Mass
MALDI-MS: applications include proteomics, biomarkers, polymer products. Applications are suitable for ionizing highly complex samples from protein compliant buffers.
Integrated Mass Spectrometers
Note: If you already have a separation instrument, you can couple it with your rented mass spectrometer by obtaining the right software modifications.
GC-MS combine gas chromatography with mass spectrometry to separate, quantify volatile compounds. GC-MS analyze volatile or semi-volatile organics.
LC-MS combines liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry for analysis of complex mixtures. This device requires no sample preparation and applications range from forensics to food testing.
Hybrid/Tandem Mass Spectrometers
Combing a hybrid and tandem mass spectrometers increases resolution, accuracy, and range. The difference between the two is that the hybrid MS uses different types of analyzers for the first and second stages of analysis. Examples of tandem/hybrid mass spectrometer are triple quadrupole, quadrupole time of flight, TOF-TOF, and quadrupole linear ion trap or QqLIT.
Common mass spectrometer manufacturers include Agilent, Perkin Elmer, Shimadzu (especially for hybrid), Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Applied Biosystem.