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Techniques & Tools Mass Spectrometry

Image of the Month

The Next Small Thing

A sample of cocaine is subjected to electrical charges from a triboelectric nanogenerator before being measured in a mass spectrometer. A team at the Georgia Institute of Technology (1) report that by using triboelectric nanogenerators as the power source to ionize molecules, mass spec sensitivity was significantly boosted – in this case, achieving a highly sensitive (~0.6 zeptomole) analysis using minimal sample (18 pl per pulse). If widely adopted, the researchers hope this new technique could allow analytical scientists to measure smaller sample sizes with increased sensitivity.

Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech  Reference: A Li et al., “Triboelectric nanogenerators for sensitive nano-coulomb molecular mass spectrometry”, Nat Nanotechnol, [epub only] (2017).

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About the Author
Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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