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Instrumental Chemistry

Chapter 11
Atomic Mass

Atomic mass

mass of a single atom, usually expressed

in atomic mass units (amu)
Most of the mass of an atom is concentrated
in the protons and neutrons contained in the
Each proton or neutron weighs about 1 amu,
and thus the atomic mass is always very close
to the mass number (total number of protons
and neutrons in the nucleus)

Mass Spectrometers

Mass spectrometers use the difference

in mass-to-charge ratio (m/e) of ionized
atoms or molecules to separate them
from each other

In general a mass spectrometer

consists of an ion source, a massselective analyzer, and an ion

Diagram of a Mass Spectrometer

Stage 1: Ionization

The atom is ionized by knocking one or

more electrons off to give a positive ion
These positive ions are persuaded out
into the rest of the machine by the ion
repeller which is another metal plate
carrying a slight positive charge

Ionization (cont.)

Stage 2: Acceleration

ions are accelerated so that they

all have the same kinetic energy
All the ions are accelerated into a finely
focused beam

Acceleration (cont.)

Stage 3: Deflection
The ions are then deflected by a

magnetic field according to their

The lighter they are, the more they are
The more the ion is charged, the more it
gets deflected

Deflection (cont.)

Stage 4: Detection

beam of ions passing through the

machine is detected electrically
When an ion hits the metal box, its charge is
neutralized by an electron jumping from the
metal on to the ion
That leaves a space amongst the electrons
in the metal, and the electrons in the wire
shuffle along to fill it

Detection (cont.)

Fourier-Transform MS

Magnetic-sector MS

Quadrupole MS

Time-of-flight MS


Coupled Plasma Mass

In ICP-MS, the plasma is formed from Argon
Plasma is defined as a gas consisting of
ions, electrons, and neutral particles


Source Mass Spectrometry

Semi-quantitative trace element technique
for the analysis of solids and liquid materials
Advantages include total simultaneous
elemental coverage, low detection limits,
semi-quantitative accuracy (+2-3x), and high
resolution capabilities to eliminate many
spectral interferences


Mass Spectrometry
Analytical technique for the bulk elemental
analysis of inorganic solid samples
The most comprehensive and sensitive
technique available for the analysis of solids

Glow Discharge Ion Source

Useful Websites Dealing With Mass Spectrometry