Mass spectrometers are perhaps the greatest tool available for the analytical chemist. With the ability to ionize, sort, and measure complex chemical mixtures by their mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) with femtogram (fg) to nanogram (ng) sensitivity, it is no wonder that mass spectrometers are widely used across many industries. The mass spectrometer can be divided into three main components: ionization source, mass analyzer, and detector. While the functions of the ionization source and detector are extremely important to the function of the mass spectrometer, it is the selection of the mass analyzer that can be tailored to meet data quality objectives. Sample matrix, required detection levels, target or non-target analysis, and budget all play an important role when selecting a mass analyzer. There are typically four types of mass analyzers to choose from: time-of-flight, quadrupole, ion trap and magnetic sector.
A time-of-flight mass spectrometer (TOFMS) is ideal for discovering new compounds in your sample, quantifying targeted compounds in complex samples, and increasing throughput with fast chromatography.