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Edexcel AS Chemistry - Mass Spectrometry


First the sample must be vapourised and injected into the first chamber, as a
mass spectrometer only works with gaseous samples
IONISATION: The heated metal coil gives of electrons which are attracted to
the positively charged plate above. The beam of electrons bombards the sample
with electrons. These electrons knock off electrons from the sample turning the
sample into a positive ion
ACCELERATION: Positive ions are repelled from the ion chamber. The sample
passes through 3 plates (with decreasing voltages between them) this creates
a finely focused beam which then accelerates the ions
Here the velocity selector ensures that the ions travel at equal velocity

DEFLECTION: A magnetic field is placed in order to deflect the ions. Deflection

depends on mass (more mass = less deflection) and charge (larger charge =
more deflection). These 2 factors create the mass/charge ratio (m/z or m/e)
{m/z = mass / charge}
DETECTION: Here the detector records the ion stream which reaches the end.
The rest of the streams will hit the walls of the machine and gain electrons,
this makes them neutral- these ions are later removed using a pump. When the
ion stream hits the metal box it gains electrons, making it neutral.This creates
a gap among the electrons causing others to replace it- this creates a flow of
electrons. This is then recorded
{More ions = Greater current}

The results from a mass spectrometer are called mass spectrums. They show
the different isotopes of the sample using different peaks along the x-axis. The
y-axis shows the % abundance of the isotope in the sample (this is the number
recorded by the detector)
Radioactive/ Carbon dating- used to date ancient remains and fossils by
comparing Carbon-12 : Carbon-14 ratios that are left behind when the organism
dies. C-14 is taken in by plants during photosynthesis as C-12 and C-14 are
chemically identical. The same applies to animals as they ultimately get energy

from plants. When the organism dies it stops taking in C-14 this causes the
ration to fall meaning it can be used to estimate the age of the organism
Drug Testing- We can compare the ratio of testosterone:epitestosterone in
urine to see if athletes have been taking anabolic steroids. The ratio is rarely
every greater than 4:1, taking steroids can raise it to 6:1. But there are some
cases when an athlete's T:E ratio is naturally high making them look like they
have taken steroids when they haven't.
To find the Ar of a sample- first you work out the total isotope mass
(% abundance X isotope mass)(repeat for each, sum = total isotope mass).
You then divide the total isotope mass by 100% or total of the isotopes %
E.g. A sample has 3 different isotopes.
Mass: 50, 51, 52
%Abundance: 50%, 30%, 20%
1) 50x50=2500, 51x30=1530, 52x20=1040
2) 2500 + 1530 + 1040 = 5070
3) 5070 / 100 (50+30+20) = 50.7
4) so Ar = 50.7