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Fields & Applications Mass Spectrometry, Forensics, Clinical

From MALDI and ESI to MAI

The achievable sensitivity and specificity of mass spectrometers makes them the premier analytical technology for both targeted and non-targeted analyses of minute amounts of material.  The high resolving power, along with the ability to obtain mass measurements that are frequently accurate enough to determine elemental composition, allows analysis of complex mixtures, especially when interfacing with chromatographic separations. And yet, despite huge successes, mass spectrometry (MS) still has ample room to grow.

Successful MS analysis begins with the ionization step, which converts molecules into gas-phase ions. In the early days of MS, compounds were vaporized and subjected to an energetic event, such as electron ionization of the gas-phase molecules, which made analysis of most biological compounds inaccessible. A great deal of research went into developing methods capable of converting nonvolatile compounds into (quasi) molecular gas-phase ions, culminating in the development of electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) in the 1980s. These are now the most widely used ionization methods in MS, and both are capable of converting a wide range of (intact) compounds – regardless of volatility – efficiently into gas-phase ions.

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About the Author

Sarah Trimpin

Sarah Trimpin is Professor of Chemistry, Wayne State University, and the co-founder and CEO of MSTM, LLC.  For her innovations she received the DuPont Young Professor Award, Eli Lilly Young Investigator in Analytical Chemistry Award, American Society for Mass Spectrometry Young Investigator Award, the Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award, as well as the Wayne State University Schaap Faculty Scholar award for excellence in research and teaching. She was awarded several National Science Foundation grants including the CAREER and STTR Phase I and II, and her laboratory was designated a Waters Center of Innovation.  She holds several patents, has edited a book, and authored over 80 peer-reviewed publications, reviews, and book chapters.  Trimpin has received the Doktor der Naturwissenschaften from the Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research, and Diplom Chemie and Baccalaureate from the University of Konstanz, Germany.

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