These spectra are used to determine the elemental or isotopic signature of a sample, the masses of particles and of molecules, and to elucidate the chemical structures of molecules, such as peptides and other chemical compounds.
(Other analyzer types are treated below.) Consider a sample of sodium chloride (table salt).In the ion source, the sample is vaporized (turned into gas) and ionized (transformed into electrically charged particles) into sodium (Na) ions.Modern techniques of mass spectrometry were devised by Arthur Jeffrey Dempster and F. In 1989, half of the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Hans Dehmelt and Wolfgang Paul for the development of the ion trap technique in the 1950s and 1960s.In 2002, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to John Bennett Fenn for the development of electrospray ionization (ESI) and Koichi Tanaka for the development of soft laser desorption (SLD) and their application to the ionization of biological macromolecules, especially proteins.Wien found that the charge-to-mass ratio depended on the nature of the gas in the discharge tube. Early spectrometry devices that measured the mass-to-charge ratio of ions were called mass spectrographs which consisted of instruments that recorded a spectrum of mass values on a photographic plate.
A mass spectroscope configuration was used in early instruments when it was desired that the effects of adjustments be quickly observed.The ions are detected by a mechanism capable of detecting charged particles, such as an electron multiplier.Results are displayed as spectra of the relative abundance of detected ions as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio.Goldstein called these positively charged anode rays "Kanalstrahlen"; the standard translation of this term into English is "canal rays".Wilhelm Wien found that strong electric or magnetic fields deflected the canal rays and, in 1899, constructed a device with parallel electric and magnetic fields that separated the positive rays according to their charge-to-mass ratio (Q/m). Thomson later improved on the work of Wien by reducing the pressure to create the mass spectrograph.The atoms or molecules in the sample can be identified by correlating known masses to the identified masses or through a characteristic fragmentation pattern.