Mass spectroscopy is a method used in science and industry in order to obtain the masses and relative concentrations of atoms and molecules and to detect isotopes in a sample based on their masses. In order to do this the method requires an instrument called the ‘mass spectrometer’, of which, is able extract accurate information of the relative masses of isotopes and their relative abundance. This makes the mass spectrometer very useful for applications such as carbon dating and radioactive dating processes because the combination of a mass spectrometer and a gas chromatograph makes a powerful tool for the detection of trace quantities of contaminants or toxin. The mass spectrometer allows you to separate ionised/charged particles of different masses and determine the amounts of each particle in a mixture. The mass spectrometer works in a sequence that can be broken down into three stages, the ionisation source, the analyser and the detector. The sample is first put through the first stage of the instrument where it is introduced into the ionisation source. It is injected into a high vacuum thus extremely low pressure tube system where the particles in the substance are then ionised to positive ions when colliding with a beam of high speed electrons shot from an electron gun. However this material must be in a gaseous state to be analysed in the mass spectrometer and if not already a gas must be vaporised before the mass spectroscopy process can begin. The now ions are then accelerated down a tube using negative plates and then through a powerful magnetic field, which is the analyser region because the charged or ionised particles are deflected by this powerful magnetic field at different amounts and degrees. How much they are deflected depends on the particle mass, the speed of the particle and the strength of the magnetic field. Therefore by varying the strength of the magnetic field it is possible to adjust the MS to bring a focus of...
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