Ion-mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry

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Ion-mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry (ion-mobility separation–mass spectrometry, IMS-MS) is an analytical chemistry method that separates gas phase ions on a millisecond timescale using ion-mobility spectrometry and uses mass spectrometry on a microsecond timescale to identify components in a sample.


Earl W. McDaniel has been called the father of ion mobility mass spectrometry.[1] In the early 1960s, he coupled a low-field ion mobility drift cell to a sector mass spectrometer.[2] The combination of time-of-flight mass spectrometry and ion-mobility spectrometry was pioneered in 1963 at Bell Labs. In 1963 McAfee and Edelson published an IMS-TOF combination. From their Letter to the Editor [3] it is not conclusive whether they used an orthogonal extraction TOF. Most likely it was, because they seem to have used the TOF of the company Bendix, which was an orthogonal TOF. In 1967 McKnight, McAfee and Sipler published an IMS-TOF combination. Their instrument clearly included an orthogonal TOF.[4] In 1969 Cohen et al. filed a patent [5] on an IMS-QMS system. The QMS at that time was an improvement compared to the TOFMS, because the TOFMS lacked under the slowlyness of the electronic data acquisition systems at that time. In 1970, Young, Edelson and Falconer published an IMS-TOF with orthogonal extraction.[6] They seem to have used the same system as McKnight et al. in 1967, incorporating slight modifications. Their work was later reproduced in the landmark book of Mason/McDaniel,[7] which is regarded as the “bible of IMS” by those skilled in the art. In 1996 Guevremont et al. presented a poster at the ASMS conference [8] about IMS-TOF. In 1997 Tanner patented a quadrupole with axial fields which can be used as a drift cell for IMS separation. He also mentions the combination of these quadrupoles with an orthogonal TOFMS.[9] In 1998 Clemmer reinvented the IMS-TOF combination, using a co-axial IMS-TOF setup.[10] In 1999 Clemmer reinvented the IMS-TOF with an orthogonal TOF system.[11]


The IMS-MS is a combination of an ion-mobility spectrometer and a mass spectrometer. First the ion mobility spectrometer separates ions according to their mobilities. In a second step the mass spectrometer separates ions according to their mass-to-charge ratio. Such a combination is often referred to as a hyphenated separation or multi-dimensional separation.

There are different types of ion mobility spectrometers and there are different types of mass spectrometers. In principle it is possible to combine every type of the former with any type of the latter.

Types of IMS-MS include TOFIMS (time-of-flight IMS) or the traditional ion mobility spectrometer, DMS differential mobility spectrometer, a scanable filter, also called FAIMS,[1] and DMA differential mobility analyzer, a scanable filter.


The IMS-MS technique can be used for analyzing complex mixtures based on differing mobilities in an electric field, and to characterise gas-phase ions through measurement of the collision cross section and comparison with molecular modelling. It has been used in the detection of chemical warfare agents, detection of explosives,[1] in proteomics for the analysis of peptides, analysis of drug-like molecules [12] and nano particles.{[13]}

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kanu, Abu B.; Dwivedi, Prabha; Tam, Maggie; Matz, Laura; Hill, Herbert H. (2008). "Ion mobility-mass spectrometry". Journal of Mass Spectrometry 43 (1): 1–22. doi:10.1002/jms.1383. ISSN 1076-5174. PMID 18200615. 
  2. ^ McDaniel, E. W.; Martin, D. W.; Barnes, W. S. (1962). "Drift Tube-Mass Spectrometer for Studies of Low-Energy Ion-Molecule Reactions". Review of Scientific Instruments 33 (1): 2. doi:10.1063/1.1717656. ISSN 0034-6748. 
  3. ^ K.B. McAfee and D. Edelson J. Chem. Phys. 1963, 382.
  4. ^ L.G. McKnight, K.B. McAfee and D.P. Sipler Phys. Rev. 1967, 164(1), 62
  5. ^ Patent US 3621240
  6. ^ C.E. Young, D. Edelson, W.E. Falconer J. Chem. Phys. 1970, 53(11), 4295.
  7. ^ E.A. Mason, E.W. McDaniel; Transport Properties of Ions in Gases; John Wiley and Sons: New York, 1988; p 560
  8. ^ Proceedings of 44th ASMS conference, p.1090
  9. ^ Patent WO9707530 (A1)
  10. ^ Henderson S C, Valentine S J, Counterman A E, Clemmer D E, Anal. Chem. 1999, 71, (2), 291-301
  11. ^ Hoaglund C S, Valentine S J, Sporleder C R, Reilly J P, Clemmer D E, Anal. Chem. 1998, 70, (11), 2236-2242.
  12. ^ Lapthorn, Cris; Pullen, Frank; Chowdhry, Babur (2013). "Ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry (IMS-MS) of small molecules: Separating and assigning structures to ions". Mass Spectrometry Reviews 32 (1): 43–71. doi:10.1002/mas.21349. ISSN 0277-7037. 
  13. ^ Angel, Laurence; Majors, Lance; Dharmaratne, Asantha; Dass, Amala (2010). "Ion Mobility Mass Spectrometry of Au25(SCH2CH2Ph)18 Nanoclusters". ACS Nano 4 (8): 4691–700. doi:10.1021/nn1012447.