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A team of researchers at IRIG and CEA-LETI has developed a new compact, mobile mass spectrometer technology, incorporating a nano-electro-mechanical resonator (NEMS) capable of measuring the mass of nanoparticles and viruses.
Mass measurements in the mega to giga-Dalton range are essential for the characterization of natural or synthetic nanoparticles but impossible to achieve with conventional mass spectrometers. Mass spectrometry based on nano-electro-mechanical systems (NEMS) has demonstrated unique capabilities for analysis at these ultra-high masses. However previously designed systems had constraints transferred from conventional instruments, such as the use of ion guides and high vacuum requirements.The IRIG teams in collaboration with CEA-LETI have developed a more compact system. They studied the influence of pressure on the performance of the NEMS sensor and the aerodynamic focusing lens that equipped their original prototype. They realized that the spectrometer could operate at much higher pressures than anticipated, without compromising particle focusing or mass measurement quality.
Based on these observations, the researchers designed and assembled a new modular and frugal prototype. Its operation was validated in measurements of gold nanoparticles mass distribution.
This new lighter modular mechanical design significantly improves the transfer and capture efficiency of nanoparticles by the resonators, enabling analysis ten times faster without compromising mass resolution.
Figure: NEMS nano-electromechanical mass spectrometer system.
Reynaud A, Trzpil W, Dartiguelongue L, Çumaku V, Fortin T, Sansa M, Hentz S and Masselon C
Compact and modular system architecture for a nano-resonator-mass spectrometer
Frontiers in chemistry 2023
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.