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Advances in Field-Portable Mass Spectrometers for On-site Analytics

NCJ Number
International News on Fats Oils and Related Materials (inform) Volume: 23 Dated: October 2014 Pages: 613-617
Date Published
5 pages

Since the speed of chemical analysis is typically limited by sample preparation time and the throughput of the chemical instrumentation that is used, this article reports on some strategies that are being used to overcome these limitations.


One of the greatest increases in sample throughput could come from reducing or eliminating the time and resources required to transport samples from the field to the analytical laboratory, a necessity for most instrumentation classes that can add minutes to several days to an overall analysis, depending on the target of the study. As previously discussed (inform 20: 625–627, 676, 2009), mass spectrometry (MS) is highly amenable to miniaturization, enabling analysts to take portable MS systems into the field. This effectively brings the chemistry lab to the sample and eliminates sample shipment/transport.  The combination of ambient ionization methods with portable MS technologies offers great potential in chemical analysis, and researchers from various fields of science are already taking advantage of the enhanced throughput and negligible preparation requirements. Portable MS systems continue to be produced with smaller form factor and higher performance, but due to the restrictive nature of critical instrumental components, size reduction may never reach the point where we each have our own personal mass spectrometer. Then again, that’s what “they” said about the computer. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2012