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New analysis by tandem mass spectrometer device

A research group of INRA-Synchrotron SOLEIL has developed a new ion activation technique for tandem mass spectrometry, which is based on the activation by a beam of vacuum-ultraviolet (VUV) photons emitted from a discharge lamp and allowing photoionization, photodetachment and photodissociation of stored ions.

Tandem mass spectrometry instrument. © INRA, A. Giuliani
Updated on 12/16/2013
Published on 11/26/2013

Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) consists in isolating an ion of interest, and then to provide it with a sufficient amount of energy (activation) to produce fragments. Detection of the products of this fragmentation provides information on the structure of the precursor ion. Among MS/MS analyzers, ion traps are a special type that captures ions in space as a dense ion cloud. Among existing activation methods, Collision-Induced Dissociation (CID: activation of an ion of interest by collisions with an inert gas) is the most commonly used, but has drawbacks: loss of ions and a decrease of the resolution; excitation of the ions is not selective; the efficiency decreases with the increasing of the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) of the ions; the mechanisms involved are statistical and can lead to the breaking of the weakest linkages.

A group of researchers coordinated by Alexandre Giuliani has developed at SOLEIL synchrotron radiation facility a new activation method based on the excitation of ions using a vacuum-ultraviolet (VUV) radiation. The device implements an ion trap mass spectrometer coupled to a dischrage lamp that emits an energetic electromagnetic radiation in the VUV range. In this case, the discharge lamp generates a light beam directed to the ion trap, whose wavelength is between 30 nm (40 eV) and 155 nm (8 eV).

This alternative MS/MS method has the following properties:

  • No competition between excitation and ejection since ion trajectories are not disturbed by interaction with the VUV light
  • The method is based on photoabsorption, which can be very selective according to the wavelength of the incident light
  • The efficient section of photoabsorption increases with the size of these species,
  • Some dissociations preserve weak interactions.

Advantages of the invention are:

  • VUV discharge lamps are cheap by comparison with UV lasers
  • VUV lamps are easy to use and do not present specific risks such as lasers
  • Discharge lamps are versatile: the wavelength of the emitted radiation depends on the type of gas (neon, krypton, argon, xenon or gas mixture). Thus, we can choose a wavelength best suited to the process that we want to foster
  • The generated fragmentations may be different and complementary to other fragmentation methods, including CID
  • This new instrument also allows fragmentation products that are similar to those obtained by the prior art, and for a lower operation cost
  • The ability to select the photon energy produced by the VUV lamp allows choosing the optimal conditions to photoionization, photodetachment or photodissociation of ionized molecules accumulated in the ion trap analyzer.

INRA Transfert is seeking industrial partners amongst operators of the MS/MS spectrometry in order to develop this patented technology (WO2013/021124; INRA, Synchrotron SOLEIL) through licence or licence option with a R&D program.

Tandem mass spectrometry device implementing the coupling of a VUV lamp with an ion trap analyzer (prototype developed by A. Giuliani et al.). © INRA, A. Giuliani
Tandem mass spectrometry device implementing the coupling of a VUV lamp with an ion trap analyzer (prototype developed by A. Giuliani et al.) © INRA, A. Giuliani

Scientific contact(s):

  • Alexandre GIULIANI Synchrotron SOLEIL
Licensing-out officer of INRA Transfert:
Nathalie TURC (+33 1 42 75 92 93)

Industrial applications

This original instrument coupling a VUV lamp and an ion trap mass analyzer allows by photoionization, photodetachment and photodissociation the structural analysis of ionized molecules accumulated in the ion trap.