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Neutral MS

Published on 14 January 2020

​Nems-Based Neutral Mass Spectrometry For High-Mass Species

  What is Neutral MS?

CEA-Leti, in collaboration with CEA’s FundamentalResearch Division, developed a novel technology for mass measurement, filling a gap in mass of several orders of magnitude. So far, no commercial technology could directly measuret he inertial mass of nanoscale objects in the megadalton (MDa) to gigadalton (GDa)range (1MDa–10GDa). With this new range, CEA-Leti’s technology now enables characterization of most viruses, as well as synthetic nanoparticles for nanomedicine—virus like particles, protein nanoparticles, metallic or hybrid nanoparticles, etc.


CEA-Leti’s NEMS-based neutral mass spectrometry solution will fuel discoveries in biological and biomedical science such as:
  • Analytical instrumentation for biologica or synthetic nanoparticles
  • Biotechnology: nanoparticles for drug deliver or anti-tumoral therapy
  • Virology
  • Pharmaceutical industry (quality control)
  • Cosmetic industry
  • Environment, air quality control
  • Food industry

   What's new?

Neutral MS relies on nanomechanical resonator arrays, with doubly clamped nanoscale beams actuated at their resonance frequencies. Biological or synthetic particles landing on the device shift the frequency by an amount which is proportional to the particle mass. Real-time frequency tracking of the device enables real-time mass spectrometry with single particle resolution.

   What's next

The joint CEA-Leti and CEA’s Fundamental Research Division team is currentlyworking on decreasing time of analysis from several hours down to a few minutes by increasing the density of the nanoresonator array (from 20 to>1000 NEMS within an array). Team is also working on improving the sensor design to enable the analysis of a greater variety of particles, including those featuring irregular shapes (large aspect ratio).


• Patent portfolio on NEMS
technology and system

• Publication: “Neutral mass
spectrometry of virus capsids
above 100 megadaltons with
nanomechanical resonators”
Dominguez-Medina et al,
Science 362, 918-922 (2018)

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