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Nat Commun. 2015 Mar 10;6:6482. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7482.

Neutral particle mass spectrometry with nanomechanical systems.

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1] Université Grenoble Alpes, F-38000 Grenoble, France [2] CEA, LETI, Minatec Campus, F-38054 Grenoble, France.
1] Université Grenoble Alpes, INAC-SP2M, F-38000 Grenoble, France [2] CEA, INAC- SP2M, F-38000 Grenoble, France.
Departments of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering, Kavli Nanoscience Institute, California Institute of Technology, MC 149-33, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.
1] Université Grenoble Alpes, F-38000 Grenoble, France [2] CEA, IRTSV, Biologie à Grande Echelle, F-38054 Grenoble, France [3] INSERM, U1038, F-38054 Grenoble, France.


Current approaches to mass spectrometry (MS) require ionization of the analytes of interest. For high-mass species, the resulting charge state distribution can be complex and difficult to interpret correctly. Here, using a setup comprising both conventional time-of-flight MS (TOF-MS) and nano-electromechanical systems-based MS (NEMS-MS) in situ, we show directly that NEMS-MS analysis is insensitive to charge state: the spectrum consists of a single peak whatever the species' charge state, making it significantly clearer than existing MS analysis. In subsequent tests, all the charged particles are electrostatically removed from the beam, and unlike TOF-MS, NEMS-MS can still measure masses. This demonstrates the possibility to measure mass spectra for neutral particles. Thus, it is possible to envisage MS-based studies of analytes that are incompatible with current ionization techniques and the way is now open for the development of cutting-edge system architectures with unique analytical capability.

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