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4.1 Introduction, operating principle

Mass spectrometry is one of the most popular analysis methods today. A mass spectrometer analyzes the composition of chemical substances by means of partial pressure measurement.

(Figure 4.1)
Figure 4.1: Total and partial pressure measurement
Source: Pupp / Hartmann, Vakuumtechnik, Grundlagen und Anwendungen, Hanser Verlag

Analyses are typically performed in the field of research & development and in the production of products that are used in daily life:

Gaseous or liquid substances that vaporize under vacuum are admitted to a mass spectrometer. The gas is diluted by being partially pumped down to a low pressure (molecular flow range) in a vacuum chamber and ionized through electron bombardment. The ions thus generated are introduced to a mass filter and separated on the basis of their charge-to-mass ratio.

(Figure 4.2)
Figure 4.2: Components of a mass spectrometer

Figure 4.2 shows the typical structure of a mass spectrometer system:

The actual analyzer is located in the vacuum and consists of the following components:

Mass spectrometers differ as a result of the wide variety of available versions. The main difference consists of the separating systems. The following four types of mass filters are in widespread use today:

Our discussion will be confined to sector field mass spectrometers and quadrupole mass spectrometers, as these are the mass spectrometers that are most widely used in the field of vacuum technology.

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