||Chemists have developed the world's smallest mass spectrometer, the Mini 11, which could be used to detect hidden explosives or bioterrorism agents.
Credit: American Chemical Society
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in Indiana are describing development of the world’s smallest complete
mass spectrometer (MS), a miniature version of a standard lab device —
some of which would dominate a living room — to identify tiny amounts
of chemicals in the environment. The hand-held MS, about the size of a
shoebox, could speed the detection of bioterrorism agents, hidden
explosives, and other threats, the researchers say. Their study is
scheduled for the current issue of ACS’ Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
R. Graham Cooks, Zheng Ouyang, and colleagues note that scientists have
developed several different versions of portable mass spectrometers
over the past few decades. However, the instruments’ large size,
weight, and inability to analyze a wide variety of different target
molecules have limited their practical use.
The scientists responded to the need for a small but sensitive MS by
developing the Mini 11. About the size of a small shoebox, it weighs
only 9 pounds (half the weight of other portable MSs), and can be
operated by remote control. Laboratory tests showed that the Mini 11
could accurately identify the chemical composition of three commonly
used commercial drugs within just one minute using tandem mass
spectrometry. Unlike previous portable mass specs, this new instrument
is capable of analyzing a wider variety of molecules, including large
proteins, the scientists say.
News release courtesy of American Chemical Society on October 22, 2008.