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As a Mechanical Engineer at Exum Instruments, Jens designs and builds Exum’s novel and comprehensive mass spectrometer.
A mass spectrometer (MS) is an analytical instrument that measures the mass of ions. All mass spectrometers share three basic components:
The Massbox’s ionization source is Laser Ablation Laser Ionization (LALI). After ionization, it sends ions through a series of ion optics and two quadrupoles. Then the Reflectron Time of Flight (TOF) separates ions in space based on how long it takes them to travel through a drift tube. Because the ions are accelerated with the same energy, their velocity depends on their masses only.
Perpendicular to the sample surface, the first laser ablates (or desorbs, in the organic case) the surface. This creates plasma and a neutral particle cloud.
Parallel to the sample surface, the second laser ionizes the neutral particles.
By using LA, the Massbox does not require complicated dissolution or digestion procedures to prepare solid samples for analysis. Compared to ions formed by the plasma, there is much less elemental fractionation in the neutral particle cloud. Using LI on the neutrals eliminates the need for matrix-matched standards because these particles are more representative of the actual sample.
In many traditional MS instruments, the ablation occurs in a chamber at atmospheric pressure. Because mass analysis requires a vacuum, the ions must traverse through a series of cones and interfaces to get from atmospheric pressure to the vacuum. Losses occur at each stage of this process. In fact, approximately 1% of the initial ablated material ultimately reaches the detector. Contrary to traditional instruments, the LALI source is already at vacuum, resulting in nearly 100% ion transport efficiency.
Any solid sample, inorganic or organic.
Operating costs are significantly lower than comparable methods for three reasons:
Because of the Massbox’s high sample throughput, its cost per analyzed sample is only a few cents.
All data are loaded and stored on an Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud server.
Exum is committed to exceeding our customers’ expectations by providing excellent support. All instruments contain an all-inclusive, 1-year warranty for instrument service and support. After this, we’ll continue providing software upgrades.
For LALI, the only requirement is a flat sample with a solid surface.