tips for purchasing a mass spectrometer

Maintenance Tip: Mass Spectrometers

Because mass spectrometers are such specialized instrumentation, you’ll most likely need to bring in trained service technicians from the manufacturer or a third party to do any major maintenance. However, a few things you can do to keep your mass spectrometer in top shape include venting the unit and cleaning key components such as the ion source according to the user’s manual. Regular visual inspections can also help spot problems before they become disasters.

How does the analyte of interest and sample type influence which type of MS should be purchased?

Depending on the type of sample being analyzed, as well as the analytical interests of the researcher, there are some configuration options which should be considered beforehand. First, the preferred method of ionization for the sample type—such as electron impact ionization, electrospray ionization, matrix assisted laser desorption ionization, and inductively coupled plasma—should be determined. As a result of the ionization technique used, the type of detector best suited may change as well—for example, time-of-flight detectors are commonly used with MALDI.

How will data interpretation and manipulation requirements influence the ideal MS set up?

The data produced by an MS can be extremely thorough, as well as immense. Sifting through raw data can take even the most talented researchers a considerable amount of time. As such, many vendors and third-party companies have developed integrated software solutions to match the needs of many laboratories. Purchasing an MS that has the required software solutions—or can accommodate the required software—should be an important consideration when buying.

How will sample throughput needs affect the installation of the ideal MS?

For laboratories which have high sample volumes and need faster turnaround times, the configuration of the ideal MS may be impacted. Automation solutions exist for a variety of applications, from robotic sample changers, to liquid handling, and automatic dilution technologies. By automating the analysis process, technicians and researchers can focus on other tasks, greatly increasing efficiency.

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