Where are mass spectrometers used?

1 Answer
Jun 14, 2015

Mass spectrometers are used in almost every area of science.


Here are a few examples.


  • Carbon dating

Biology and Biotechnology

  • Identifying structures of complex molecules such as peptides and proteins

Earth Science

  • Measuring petroleum precursors in rock

Environmental Science

  • Monitoring toxins in animals and fish
  • Monitoring atmospheric, water, and soil contaminants
  • Monitoring food contaminants


  • Analysis of poisons or toxins in body tissues
  • Analysis of trace evidence such as carpet fibres, paint flakes, etc.
  • Identification of accelerants used by arsonists
  • Identification of explosive residue from bombings
  • Testing for traces of chemicals likely to be used by terrorists


  • Monitoring the respiratory gases of patients under anesthesia
  • Neonatal screening
  • Hemoglobin analysis


  • Radioactive dating

Pharmaceutical Industry

  • Characterization of new drugs
  • Identifying impurities in drugs
  • Studies of drug metabolism

Space Exploration

  • Analysis of the solar wind
  • Analysis of planetary soil and atmosphere
  • Monitoring air quality and composition in space shuttles

Sports Medicine

  • Testing for the presence of steroids, diuretics, and stimulants in a person's body