Mass Spectrometry Anywhere

Christopher J Pulliam, Purdue University


Mass spectrometers are at the forefront of chemical analysis for small and large molecules, oceanic and interplanetary studies, forensic analysis, and clinical investigations. Over the past century, mass spectrometry development has been influenced by scientists from all disciplines. The prevalence of mass spectrometry in every corner of science is due to its high selectivity and sensitivity, wide chemical scope and to its adaptable nature. Mass spectrometry refers to the generation and analysis of ions according to their mass-to-charge. With such general constraints, scientists have approached ion generation and analysis in imaginative ways leading to multiple Nobel prizes throughout its history. While many analytical problems can be solved from lab, many problems are best addressed in situ to maintain sample integrity and to avoid worsening the backlog with non-critical samples, at least as a screening practice. Examples of this include forensic and interplanetary samples. Commercial benchtop mass spectrometers are restricted to primary and satellite labs because they are heavy, expensive, consume significant amounts of power and are not [physically] robust. Miniature mass spectrometers mitigate these concerns while sacrificing some analytical performance. These sacrifices arise from smaller vacuum systems and less stable electronics. Notwithstanding, miniature ion trap mass spectrometers such as the Mini 12, excel in chemical analysis because it has the same scan functions as its full-size counterpart allowing for qualitative and quantitative analysis in the lab and in the field. The development of minimalistic ionization techniques known as ambient ionization has helped to encourage the removal of miniature mass spectrometers from the typical lab confines, to the field. The work discussed herein chronicles the integration of mass spectrometry into the home, the clinic and the process organic lab. Throughout these projects, the mass spectrometer was transported to the sample rather than the sample to the instrument thus emphasizing the importance of a robust analytical instrument capable of qualitative and quantitative analysis. To achieve these goals, the mass spectrometer was adapted to the problem by varying the ionization method, building new hardware, or even modifying the data analysis system.




Cooks, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Chemistry|Analytical chemistry

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