Improved mass resolution and ion throughput in ToF mass spectrometry

Faster, higher resolution – time-of-flight (ToF) describes a method of mass spectrometry in which ions are accelerated by an electric field of known strength.

The Oxford invention improves both the mass resolution and the data acquisition rate of ToF mass spectrometers. This simple to implement invention couples fast detectors with ToF mass spectrometry in order to improve total ion throughput and time (and correspondingly mass) resolution.

How does it work?

The invention exploits fast pixel sensors to yield a technique that will allow recording over relatively long timescales such as the ~100 micro seconds required to record a ToF mass spectrum, whilst maintaining the same high time resolution possible for the much shorter timescale of single events.

Attractive market

This invention should be of interest to companies who produce ToF mass spectrometers at the high end of the market. We particularly believe that there is an excellent fit with products aimed at the drug discovery, biochemistry and proteomics markets, where high mass resolution and high throughput for large molecular fragments is of great importance.

Do more with current equipment

The development could be used routinely in high-end ToF mass spectrometers for achieving higher mass resolution and throughput, with a correspondingly reduced data acquisition time, than is available with current state-of-the-art instruments.

The invention employs a different approach from that currently used by mass spectrometer manufacturers. An order of magnitude performance advantage in terms of both mass resolution and ion throughput would be expected when employed with a commercial instrument.

Implementing this invention requires a relatively low cost add-on to an existing ToF spectrometer, which could also be sold aftermarket.

Patent status

The Oxford invention is the subject of a UK patent application which describes how to use the new method in ToF mass spectrometry.

Oxford University Innovation would like to talk to companies interested in developing this into a commercial opportunity.

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