Mass Spectrometry

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Mass spectrometry (MS) is an ionising analytical technique that is used to determine the elemental or isotopic signature of a sample, the masses of particles and of molecules, and to elucidate the chemical structures of molecules, such as peptides and other chemical compounds, based on mass-to-charge ratio resulting from ionised chemical species. In mass spectrometry, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation (MALDI) is a technique using a laser energy absorbing matrix to create ions and is especially applied to analysis of molecule which are fragile and large organic molecules. MALDI typically produces fewer multi-charged ions.

Time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOFMS) determines an ion’s mass-to-charge ratio via a time of flight measurement, time that it takes for the ion to reach a detector at a known distance. This time depends on the velocity of the ion, and therefore is a measure of its mass-to-charge ratio, from which the ion can be identified.

Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS or MS2), involves multiple steps of mass spectrometry selection, with some form of fragmentation occurring in between the stages. The resulting ions are detected in a second stage of mass spectrometry (MS2). Similarly, Tandem time-of-flight (TOF/TOF) is a tandem mass spectrometry method where two time-of-flight mass spectrometers are used.

ICAM equipment includes:

  • Bruker Autoflex Speed LRF MALDI, Bruker Daltonics UltrafleXtreme MALDI TOFTOF at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • AB Sciex 4700 MALDI TofTof at the University of Cambridge, capable of measuring mass over the range of 1 to approximately 400,000 Da.
  • Aerodyne Aerosol Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer at The University of Manchester¬†used to study the chemical and physical nature of aerosol particles.