Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Mass Spectrometry


Jeff Musselman is analyzing a new compound by GC-MS

Mass Spectrometry is used to determine the molecular weight of a given compound. It can also be used to determine the connectivity (that is, how the molecule is hooked together) of a compound. In this technique, the compound to be analyzed is ionized, the resultant ion (and fragment ions) are separated in magnetic and/or electric fields, and then ordered on the basis of mass to charge ratio. Our mass spectrometer (Thermo Polaris Q) is interfaced to a gas chromatograph (Thermo Trace GC) so we can analyze mixtures. The GC will separate the mixture and the MS will provide structural information for each compound. We obtained the GC/MS in 2001 at a cost of about $85,000, with the help of grants from the National Science Foundation, Dreyfus Foundation, and Lycoming College. The GC/MS also has an autosampler to allow us to run samples from every student in a class overnight.