Mass Spectrometry Learning Center

What is mass spectrometry?

Mass spectrometry (MS) is a technique that analyzes ions based on their mass-to-charge (m/z) ratio to determine their identity and quantity in simple and complex mixtures. Mass spectrometers typically consist of an ionization source, an analyzer and a detector.

Ion Source › Mass Analyzer › Ion Detector › Computer

The introduced sample is ionized inside the ionization source, after which it is accelerated, under vacuum, through electric and magnetic fields. Ions deflect and separate, and the radius of their path (and their eventual location on the detector) is a function of their masses. Spectral data are then generated through integrated computers and software platforms.

MS is used to analyze a wide variety of compounds, from petrochemicals to proteins. It has been applied to carbon dating, isotope enrichment, water quality testing, drug discovery, pharma/biopharma, environmental impact studies, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, forensic toxicology and sports doping. Certain spacecraft and satellites make use of on-board MS systems to perform assessments of solar and planetary events.

Mass spectrometry features


Methods for Characterizing Monoclonal Antibodies
Methods for Characterizing Monoclonal Antibodies

Read about therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and their variants, such as bispecific mAbs and antibody–drug conjugates, and the careful characterization and quality control required to ensure their safety and efficacy.

Mass spectrometry subtopics

Mass Spectrometry Applications Areas

Different fields of study use mass spectrometry to analyze and quantify samples, and to elucidate the atomic and molecular identities of compounds present in complex mixtures. Find specific sample prep procedures and workflows here.

Mass Spectrometry Technology Overview

Mass spectrometry is a process that involves ionization, fragmentation, selection, detection and analysis. How do all these steps come together to elucidate the amounts and chemical identities of target analytes? Learn about the process here.

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