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Advantages and disadvantages of different mass spectrometry analysis methods

2023-12-27 17:42

Quadrupole mass spectrometer, QMS

QMS is the most common mass spectrometry instrument with outstanding quantitative ability, accounting for the vast majority in GC-MS.


Simple structure, low cost, and easy maintenance;

The quantitative ability of SIM function is strong, and it is an instrument and equipment used in most detection standards.


Lack of cross polarity ability and insufficient qualitative ability;

Low resolution (unit resolution), with interference from isotopes and other ions with m/z approximation;

Slow speed and low quality limit (less than 1200u).

Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer, TOFMS

TOFMS is the fastest mass spectrometer suitable for LC-MS applications.


It has good resolution, which is helpful for qualitative analysis of the difference between the m/z approximate ion and the ESI spray ion source;

Fast speed, with 2-100 high-resolution full scan (such as 50-2000u) spectra per second, suitable for fast LC systems (such as UPLC);

High quality limit (6000~10000u).


No string pole function, which limits further qualitative ability;

The selling price is higher than QMS;

More precise and requires careful maintenance.

Triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, QQ

QQ mass spectrometry provides a cascade function for quadrupole mass spectrometers while retaining the strong quantitative ability of QMS, enhancing the qualitative ability of mass spectrometry. It is often used as a confirmation detection method for QMS in detection standards.


Has string pole function and strong qualitative ability;

Very good quantitative ability, MRM has a higher signal-to-noise ratio than QMS's SIM;

It is a commonly used QMS result confirmation instrument;

In addition to the general sub ion scanning function, QQQ also has functions such as SRM, MRM, mother ion scanning, and Neutrality loss (ion trap not working);

Studying the structure of characteristic groups is of great help.


Insufficient resolution and susceptibility to ion interference from m/z approximation;

High selling price;

Careful maintenance is required.

Quadrupole ion trap, QTrap

Technically speaking, auxiliary RF has been added to the quadrupole of traditional QQ, which can be selectively excited; Or in terms of functionality, it provides QQ with multi-level cascade functionality.


Simultaneously equipped with MRM, SRM, neutral loss, and multi-level cascade functions, it is very suitable for structural analysis of unknown samples.


The resolution is still a bit low.

Ion trap mass spectrometer, ITMS

Ion trap mass spectrometer is the simplest tandem mass spectrometry commonly used for structural identification.


Cost lower than QQ, compact in size;

Having multi-level cascade capability, suitable for qualitative research in molecular structure, able to provide local structural information of molecules, better than QQ.

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