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Mass Spectrometry
A mass spectrometer is a device that is used in analytical chemistry to determine the molecular mass of some unknown molecule. It uses an electric current to ionize the unknown sample. These ions are then accelerated to make sure the right molecule passes through the slits at the end. These unknown ions can be detected at the ion detector, which calculates the mass of that ion. Once the mass data is collected, it can be analyzed by plotting the relative abundance (related to the intensity) versus the mass-to-charge ratio. Notice that if the charge on the ion is equal to +1, the mass to charge ratio simply becomes the mass. The unknown molecule being used is known as the parent molecule and when it is ionized, it is referred to as the parent ion. The peak that the parent ion produces on the mass spectrum is known as the parent peak. The peak directly to the right of the parent peak is known as the p +1 peak and this represents a molecule that has a slightly higher mass. This peak corresponds to the parent molecule that is composed of heavier isotope atoms. Along with these two peaks, there are many other peaks that exist and this entire pattern of peaks is known as the fragmentation pattern. The peak with the highest intensity is called the base peak and it is given a relative abundance of 100%.
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