Mass Spectrometry Introduction

Intro to Mass Spectrometry

Broadly speaking, mass spectrometry is a technique for measuring the mass/charge ratio of ions. Thus, provided that you can create an ion of a molecule (and there are lots of methods for doing this), you can determine its mass. Furthermore, once you have created an ion, you can fragment it (by colliding it at high velocity into a nitrogen molecule, for example) and measure the masses of the fragments. If you understand something about how your compound class breaks up, you can generally get a pretty good idea about the structure of the original molecule. As with all scientific techniques, however, the devil is in the details.

Prof. Suizdak has developed a very nice “History of Mass Spectrometry” site that I would recommend.

The American Society for Mass Spectrometry¬†also provide a series of “The Basics of Mass Spectrometry” videos that serve as a good introduction to various aspects of mass spectrometry.