The concept of analytical equipment miniaturization includes HPLC systems as well as mass spectrometers and other systems. The rise of these technologies can be attributed to several factors including: significant advancements and innovations in technology, the need for simpler instruments with fewer needs and greater utility, and the requirements for greater efficiency in size, operating costs, and other resource allocations.
The advent of compact mass spec (CMS) instruments and other techniques such as nano-flow and chip-based HPLC systems has been aligned with expanded capabilities in analysis of low abundance molecules, limiting sample sizes, high-throughput screening applications, and versatile ionization techniques employing ambient pressure and simple sample prep. These technologies offer a glimpse of future directions in analytical chemistry, molecular medicine, and other applications such as point-of-care diagnostics and field-based material testing.
Ion mobility is a concept that has enabled many CMS technologies. Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) is a technique in which ions are separated in gaseous phases based on their differential mobilities under an electric field. The spatial separation of ions and their mass-to-charge ratios forms the basis of detection in mass spectrometry (IMS-MS) applications. Inline with ionization sources such as DESI, a wide array of materials, from aqueous samples to intact structures, can be probed and mass analyzed with high sensitivity and accuracy.
In addition to versatility to couple with various mass analyzers such as TOF and others, IMS-MS instruments have wide utility to probe substances ranging from chemical warfare agents to explosives and other hazardous materials. This lends to their utility in remote or field based locations. They are also amenable to proteomics applications, where the detection of the broadest profile of proteins, peptides, drug-like molecules, and nano-particles is both desired and possible. Finally, their ability to handle a range of sample types and complex matrices make them suitable for screening applications in diagnostic labs.