Mass Spectrometry


The mass spectrometers are mainly utilized in order to detect several unknown components through molecular weight and it also helps in the determination of phenomenon. This process also helps to quantify the already detected components and determine the structure and chemical properties of the molecules that are present in the given sample. The mass spectrometer generally performs through three major steps including Ionization Source, Ion Detection System, and Mass Analyzer. The two instruments that are utilized in various technical fields to study mass spectrometry is also determined as mass spectroscopy, are mass spectrometers and mass spectrographs.

What is Mass Spectrometry?

Mass spectrometry, also denoted as mass spectroscopy. This mechanism mainly utilizes an analytic technique through that the chemical substances are determined with the help of the sorting of gaseous ions in the electric and magnetic fields depending on their mass-to-charge ratios. The gadgets that are often utilized in the study of mass spectrometry include mass spectrometers and mass spectrographs. The instruments are being operated based on the principles that help the ions to move. The ions may get deflected through the electric and magnetic fields.

Working Principles of Mass Spectrometry

Mass spectrometry uses some sources like Gas phase methods, Desorption methods, and Spray methods. Every mass spectrometer contains 3 major components including Ionization Source, system of Ion Detection, and Mass Analyzer.

Figure 1: Working principle of spectrometry

Ionization Source: The particles that are moved to gas-phase ions can move and be manipulated through external electric and magnetic fields. The techniques that are used in the lab are determined as nanoelectrospray ionization. This technique is the same as the process of how cars are painted in their industries. This method of ionization is basically utilized in order to create positive or negative charged ions. This phenomenon highly depends on the experimental requirements. The Nanoelectrospray ionization, helps in coupling the outlet column of the small-scale chromatography, which directly inserts into the inlet of a mass spectrometer. The flow from this column is then passed through a needle which is of 10-15 um at its tip.

Mass Analyzer: After the stage, ionization source, the ions get sorted and separated on the basis of mass-to-charge (m/z) ratios. Various numbers of mass analyzers are presently required in this process, each of which trade off on the basis of speed of operation, resolution of separation, and many other operational requirements. The specific kind of mass analyzers are often utilized in several technological fields. The mass analyzer often appears in relation to the ion detection system.

Ion detection system: The ions that get segmented and measured and sent to a data system. In this data system, the m/z ratios remain stored which remain associated with the relative abundance. The mass spectrum is generally denoted as the m/z ratios of the ions that are present in a sample plotted against their intensities. Each peak in a mass spectrum will then show a component of unique m/z in the sample. The heights of peaks will then connote the relative abundance of several components present in the given sample.

Types of Mass Spectrometry

The word mass spectroscope is utilized in order to involve both kinds of devices. In this context, electrical detectors are presently used in several engineering or technical fields. The detectors are often used in the field which is usually determined as mass spectrometry (robynsrevison, 2022). There are several types of mass analyzers used widely including Time-of-flight (ToF), Magnetic sector, Ion trap, Quadrupole, and Tandem mass spectrometry (tandem MS), and Orbitrap. The effective methods that are often used in Mass Spectrometry are Gas phase methods, Desorption methods, and Spray methods.

Stages of Mass Spectrometry

The mechanism of Mass spectrometry, is often required in order to measure the mass of several molecules within a provided sample. The 4 major stages of mass spectrometry include ionization, acceleration, deflection, and detection.

The ionization stage, uses the sample that is vaporized before it is passed within an ionization chamber where it is then bombarded by a stream of electrons that is emitted through an electrically heated metal coil. The positively charged ionization chamber usually repels the positively charged ions, and it accelerates to 3 negatively charged slits with progressively reducing voltage. Deflection, is the stage where the stream of positively charged ions is deflected through the magnetic field. The final stage is denoted as detection, where the beam of ions pass-through the mass analyzer and gets detected through a detector based on the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z).


The chemical analysis which is used in the measurement of the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) of atoms and molecules in a sample is determined as the Mass spectrometry. The 2 main instruments that are often used in this mechanism differ only in the way in which the sorted charged particles are often outlined. The two instruments are mass spectrometers and mass spectrographs. In the mass spectrometer, they are often detected electrically, and in the mass spectrograph through photographic or other nonelectrical means.


Q1. What happens in the deflection stage?

Ans. The deflection stage is the final stage. In this stage, the ion hits the detector, and the charge is neutralized through an electron that is jumping from the metal onto the ion.

Q2. What are the major stages of Mass Spectrometry?

Ans. The mechanisms of mass spectrometers are widely used in various fields of technology as they play a significant role in this world of technological advancement. The 4 major stages of mass spectrometry include ionization, acceleration, deflection, and detection.

Q3. What are the instruments that are used in the study of Mass Spectrometry?

Ans. The study of mass spectrometry is also determined as mass spectroscopy. The two instruments that are utilized in the study of Mass Spectrometry are mass spectrometers and mass spectrographs.

Updated on: 12-Jan-2023


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