Top 5 Things You May Not Know About Mass Spectrometry

1. The instrument that many consider the first mass spectrometer was called a “parabola spectrograph” and was constructed in 1921 by J.J. Thompson, the renowned British physicist who had some years earlier discovered the electron.

2. It was during the 1940s that MS began to move away from its academic origins to find use in more practical applications such as nuclear isotope enrichment and the study of the composition of petroleum.

3. In 1941, John Hipple designed the first portable mass spectrometer which was marketed by Westinghouse Electric. However, this model did not seem to catch the imagination of scientists, and was not a commercial success.

4. In 1946, the first time-of-flight (TOF) mass analyzer was developed by W. Stephens of Pennsylvania. TOF MS involves acceleration of ions through an electric field of known strength, which confers the same kinetic energy to all ions of equal charge. By measuring the time taken for a particle to reach the detector, the mass/charge ratio of particles can be calculated.

5. In 1948, the first mass spectrometer to use electron ionization (EI), the MS-2, was launched by Vickers in Manchester, England. Also that year, the first ion cyclotron mass spectrometer, known as the Omegatron, was developed at the University of Minnesota.

For the Top 6 Questions You Should Ask When Buying a Mass Spectrometer, click here.

Recently Released Mass Spectrometry Systems & Accessories

IonKey/MS System MS Integration Solution

  • A new approach for getting exceptional sensitivity, robustness and ease-of-use out of mass spectrometry
  • Integrates UPLC separation into the source of the mass spectrometer
  • Provides a simplified user experience and the power to perform multiple analyses on limited sample volumes
  • Gives users the ability to analyze smaller sample sizes and features reduced solvent consumption



  • Features a quadrupole ion guide (Qi)
  • Achieves a mass resolution of more than 6000 (up to 10,000 m/?m FWHM), a limit of detection well below 1 pptv (in 30 sec), and an unmatched sensitivity of more than 1500 (up to 4500 cps/ppbv)
  • Uses a specially crafted high-resolution time of flight (TOF) mass spectrometer


Triple Quad 3500 System

  • Developed based on customer and industry feedback, resulting in a modernized system that delivers quantitative performance at a price point affordable by labs with limited budget or those new to mass spectrometry
  • Incorporates the AB SCIEX proprietary TurboV™ Ion Source and Curtain Gas™ interface to give labs consistent data quality over long runs with minimal downtime


DART-QS Source for DART MS

  • Provides a protective environment for Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) mass spectrometry of a range of materials
  • Allows both qualitative and quantitative results to be obtained in as little as 10 seconds per sample, providing rapid feedback, and alleviating backlogs
  • Allows automated direct sample analysis of up to 12 samples with disposable QuickStrip™ Sample Cards


Mass Spectrometer Manufacturers

AB Sciex 


Applied Biosystems 


GenTech Scientific 

Hitachi High Technologies 






Thermo Fisher Scientific