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Selecting a Mass Spectrometer for Your Lab

Mass Spectrometers

What to think about when choosing a mass spec for your laboratory, key sample prep tips, and recent trends

by Lab Manager
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Thermo Scientific™ Orbitrap IQ-X™ Tribrid™Mass Spectrometer,
Thermo Fisher Scientific

Mass spectrometers determine the mass-to-charge ratio of ions in a sample, creating spectra that can be used to determine the mass and structure of the molecules within a sample. There are many different configurations of mass spectrometers available depending on the sample type being analyzed and the resolution and speed of analysis required. For a list of mass spectrometer manufacturers, see our online directory:

6 Questions to Ask When Buying a Mass Spectrometer:

  1. What type of ionization source, mass analyzer, and ion detection system do you require for your application?
  2. Can the manufacturer customize the configuration to suit your needs?
  3. How sensitive is the mass spectrometer?
  4. How long does it take for the instrument to analyze a sample?
  5. What are your data analysis and interpretation requirements, and what software is available?
  6. What service agreements are available from the manufacturer?


Mass spectrometry can be a tricky technique to master. Prior to sticking your sample into a mass spectrometer, proper sample preparation must be performed. This free downloadable infographic walks you through the steps of mass spectrometry sample preparation:

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The emerging field of paleoproteomics is taking advantage of mass spectrometry techniques—which traditionally analyze modern proteins—for ancient proteins. MALDI-imaging MS and non-invasive uses of zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry are opening up exciting new dimensions for studying our ancient past, enabling researchers to look back deeper in time, and achieve more detailed analysis than ever before. Learn more: