Mass Spectrometer

An instrument for producing ions in a gas and determining their mass and hence composition.

A sample of an element is converted into a stream of ions and passed through an electromagnetic field. Ions with different charge-to-mass ratios are deflected by different amounts, and strike different spots on a film plate or other detector. From the position of the spots, the mass of the ions can be determined; from the intensity of the spot, the relative number of ions (the isotopic abundance) can be determined.

See also: Mass Spectrum, Spectrometer.

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Subjects: Chemistry Physics