Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mass spectrometry

Mass spectrometry is a technique used in analysis.

It is a form of spectrometry in which, usually, high energy electrons are bombarded onto a sample and this produces charged particles of the parent sample; these ions are then focused by electrostatic and magnetic fields to produce a spectrum of the charged fragments which is helpful in establishing the ratio of charged to mass of the particles.

Essential parts:
The design of a mass spectrometer has three essential modules:

1. An ion source:
This transforms the molecules in a sample into ionized fragments.

2. A mass analyzer:
This causes the sorting of the ions by their masses by applying electric and magnetic fields

3. A detector:
This measures the value of some indicator quantity and thus provides data for calculating the abundances of each ion fragment present.

Uses and applications:
The technique has both qualitative and quantitative uses, such as

1. Identifying unknown compounds,
2. Determining the isotopic composition of elements in a compound,
3. Determining the structure of a compound by observing its fragmentation. Its use is there in the identification and structural determination of the flavonoid glycosides. ( Maciej Stobiecki)
4. Quantifying the amount of a compound in a sample,
5. Studying the fundamentals of gas phase ion chemistry
6. Determining other physical, chemical, or biological properties of compounds.

It is now applicable in the field of proteomics. (Christine C. Wu et al.)

Christine C. Wu and John R. Yates III, The application of mass spectrometry to membrane proteomics, Nature Biotechnology 21, 262 - 267

Maciej Stobiecki, 2000, Application of mass spectrometry for identification and structural studies of flavonoid glycosides , Phytochemistry, 54, 237-256

Further reading:
Mass Spectrometry: Principles and Applications by Edmond de Hoffman and Vincent Stroobant

Mass Spectrometry: A Textbook by J├╝rgen H. Gross
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