The Technique

Mass spectrometry has emerged as one of the most valuable tools in chemistry and  biological chemistry. It facilitates the measurement of the mass of small molecules and their fragments and macromolecules with extraordinary sensitivity, speed and accuracy. Two of the major recent advances in mass spectrometry, as acknowledged by the award of the 2002 Nobel Prize to Koichi Tanaka and John Fenn, were the development of "soft"-ionization techniques, ways of vaporising macromolecules without degradation.


Structural determination from high-resolution masses of small molecules.

Protein identification by mass fingerprinting.

Peptide/protein amino acid sequencing.

Identification and localization within proteins of post-translational modifications.

Facilities available

The primary use of the BRUKER MicrOTof-Q with the DIONEX UltiMate 3000 LC is as an accurate mass instrument in ESI/APCI mode, both for pure samples via looped injection and complex mixture analysis via the DIONEX UltiMate 3000 micro LC system.
It provides:
•    A combination of high mass accuracy, resolution and sensitivity in LC/MS mode
•    SigmaFit™, the unique combination of accurate mass with True Isotopic Pattern (TIP™)
•    A wide dynamic range for ultra-stable accurate mass
•    High-performance Q-q-front end
Source: simultaneous ESI Electrospray / APCI atmospheric pressure chemical ionization source

The BRUKER HCT 3D Ion Trap is a low resolution (nominal mass) student walk-up instrument in ESI/APCI mode via looped injector or isocratic pump. The MSn capability  provides an added dimension for structural elucidation and confirmation. Source: simultaneous ESI Electrospray / APCI atmospheric pressure chemical ionization source.

Finnigan MAT 900 XL – Trap
Our High Resolution Double-Focussing Accurate Mass instrument is
used for low resolution and high resolution accurate mass EI work.

These are state-of-the-art mass spectrometers. The Ion Trap is a robust instrument that requires minimal training for running samples.

The BRUKER MicroTOF-Q and the QSTAR in Molecular Bioscieces may be used for similar purposes e.g. they are commonly used for amino acid sequencing of peptide fragments of proteins, for identification and localisation of post-translational modifications, and for LC-MS, in which the mass spectrometer acts as a very sophisticated HPLC detector. The Bruker MicroTOf-Q and the QSTAR are more complex to operate than the Bruker Ion Trap: researchers who anticipate using the Bruker MicroTOf-Q extensively will be trained in its use, but samples will be run by Grahame McFarlane for infrequent users.

Sample Requirements

Highly purified samples are needed for the Buker Ion Trap. The LC system attached to the Bruker MicroTOf-Q can be used to select single components from more complex mixtures and hence is more tolerant of impurities.


Mr. Graham Macfarlane, Room 124, Chemistry Building. Email:

Charges for Use

Available on application.

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