What is a mass spectrometer?

September 5, 2022by Kalstein

A mass spectrometer is a laboratory instrument used to separate ions within a sample that have different mass/charge ratio (m/z). The mixture may consist of different isotopes of the same substance or of different chemical elements.

Measurements from this equipment can be used in general to calculate the exact molecular weight of the sample components as well. That is, mass spectrometers can be used to identify unknown compounds by determining molecular weight, to quantify known compounds, and to determine the structure and chemical properties of molecules. It does this thanks to its structure which commonly consists of at least three components: ionization source, mass analyser and an ion detection system.

Structure of a mass spectrometer

The mass spectrometer as mentioned above consists of three main components:

  • Ion source: To produce gas phase ions from the test substance.
  • Mass Analyser: Once ionized, the ions are classified and separated according to the mass-load ratios (m/z). Today there are several mass analyzers available, each of which has tradeoffs related to operating speed, separation resolution and other operational requirements. The mass analyser often works in conjunction with the ion detection system.
  • Detection system: To detect ions and record the relative abundance of each of the resolved ionic species. A mass spectrum is simply the ratio m/z of the ions present in a sample drawn against their intensities.ย  Each peak in a mass spectrum shows a single m/z component in the sample, and the peak heights indicate the relative abundance of the various components in the sample.

In addition, a sample induction system is required, which allows samples to be injected to the ion source while maintaining the high vacuum requirements (~10-6 to 10-8 mm mercury) of the technique; and a computer is required to control the equipment, acquire and manipulate data, and compare spectra with reference libraries.

How does a mass spectrometer work?

A mass spectrometer is a specialized equipment, has a complex operation where the following processes are carried out:

  • Produce ions from the sample at the ionization source.
  • Separate these ions according to their mass-to-load ratio in the mass analyser.
  • Finally, fragment the selected ions and analyze the fragments in a second analyser.
  • It detects the ions that emerge from the last analyser and measures their abundance with the detector that converts the ions into electrical signals.
  • Finally, it processes the signals from the detector that are transmitted to the computer and controls the instrument using feedback.

What does Kalstein offer you?

Kalstein is a manufacturer of medical and laboratory equipment of the highest quality and the best technology at the best PRICES in the market, so you can make your PURCHASE confidently with us, knowing that you have the service and advice of a company specialized in the field and committed to provide you with safe, economical and effective options to perform your functions in the right way.

We have a wide variety of spectrometers, which adapt to all your needs. This time we present our double beam UV/Vis spectrophotometer – YR01862. This innovative equipment with cutting edge technology has the following features: HERE

  • Dual optical path, dual beam optical system, dual detector, with high imported grid performance, lower parasitic light, higher stability, reliability, more accurate analysis
  • Equipped with 10โ€ touch screen, built-in 32G memory, Bluetooth network support
  • Dynamic functions, DNA/protein testing, multiple wavelength testing and data printing
  • Adopt the suspension design of the optical system, all the optical path is independently fixed on the 16mm thick aluminum deformation free base
  • Vibration from the outside has no impact on the optical system, greatly improving the stability and reliability of the instrument
  • W ITH powerful storage function, the instrument can be directly connected to the printer for A4 format data and graphic printing.
  • ITH automatic start check and positioning system functions, to repair the deviation caused by a long-term application.

For more information we invite you to take a look HERE




Company headquarters

5 rue de Castiglione 75001 Paris – France.
(+33) 01 70 39 26 50(+33) 7 60 83 92 83



We are always close.


Follow our activity on social networks

Stay informed with all current news of the sector.

Personalized and instant quotes

Generate quotes based on selected product information.