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Mass Spectrometry

What is it?

We weigh molecules!

  • Actually, we usually break up the
    molecules into smaller pieces first.

  • The molecules (or pieces) are given an
    electrical charge, so we call them ions.

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How does it work?

We race them!

Since energy = mass velocity 2,
and they all have the same energy,
the lighter ones go faster!

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What's it for?

We identify chemicals...

...such as drugs or proteins in blood, pollutants in soil and water, or even materials from outer space.


Imagine that your "unknown" sample was water, H2O. You'd find that the whole molecule weighs 18 mass units: 1 from each H (hydrogen) and 16 from O (oxygen). Also, you'd see fragments weighing 17 (HO), 16 (O), and 1 (H). From all these data, you'd know that the molecule was H2O!


See the demo!

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