Integration is the main reason for the virtual disappearance of the specialist GC or MS supplier that produces chromatographs for someone else’s mass detector, and vice versa. The level of component and software interoperability demanded by end users practically invalidates this business model.

In our recent survey for MS detectors used with chromatography systems—among the GC-MS respondents—22 percent primarily used a single-quadrupole MS; 16 percent used electron ionization (suitable for gases); and 8 percent used a quadrupole ion trap. Among LC respondents, quadrupole and ion trap were the most prevalent (17 percent and 10 percent, respectively), but TOF also weighed in at 10 percent.

Top 5 Questions You Should Ask When Buying an MS Detector

1. What instrument will you be using the detector for, LC or GC? LC has many more options for detectors than GC, so if you are buying a detector for a GC system, this will narrow your choices down quite a bit.

2. What are the major applications you will be using your LC or GC system for? This will also help you narrow down your choice of detector.

3. H ow will the detector fit into your workflow? Make sure you understand what information is being brought into the analysis at the front end, and where the data will go after it’s acquired. This will ensure you pick the best detector for your workflow.

4. How will the system software handle two types of output while controlling two different instruments? You’ll want to make sure your system’s software can handle the new detector before you make your purchase.

5. What is the cost of ownership in terms of acquisition, use, and maintenance? Is it more cost-effective to purchase an LC or GC system that already comes with a detector?

Three Fast Facts on MS Detectors:

• Although chromatographs and mass detectors physically occupy different boxes, their common boundary is blurring from the perspectives of hardware design and software control.

• LC has considerably more options than GC in terms of mass detection. “Mass detectors for LC show a much wider diversity in capability than GC detectors in terms of raw sensitivity and mass resolution,” according to one expert.

• The basic options for GC include single quadrupoles, ion traps, and tandem quadrupoles. LC employs these MS modalities as well, but for each option there is significant stratification.

Recently Released Mass Spectrometry Detectors

Xevo® TQD Tandem Quadrupole MS Detector
• Enables the collection of highly specific quantitative data for target compounds, while providing the ability to simultaneously visualize all other components
• Features a wide range of ionization capabilities today, future-proofing for the innovations of tomorrow
• Designed to reduce complexity, increase ease of use, and ensure correct result is delivered every time.


• Improves the detection efficiency of very high mass ions
• Features a large 250 mm2 collection area which allows for higher sensitivities without the need for higher post-acceleration voltage
• Comprised of a high-sensitivity microchannel plate, a high-speed scintillator, and a photomultiplier which can detect both positive and negative ions with 30 kV isolation


MSQ Plus* Mass Detector
• Designed for robustness, increasing productivity through dependable simplicity
• Mass detection empowers chromatographers by generating meaningful data, strengthened by full scan mass spectra
• Allows acquisitions at 12,000 amu/sec and both profile and centroid modes
• Also enables user-controlled fragmentation and fast polarity switching

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Flexar SQ 300 MS Detector
• Features advanced design solutions in ion source and mass spectrometry technology
• Provides soft ionization in rugged design
• Detection system combines the most efficient chromatographic separation with fast MS detection capabilities
• Attains a new level of sample insight through speed, confirmatory analysis and excellent sensitivity


Mass Spectrometry Detector Manufacturers

GBC Scientific
Hitachi High Technologies
Thermo Fisher Scientific