Swansea Science Festival Family Day

What is mass spectrometry?

Mass spectrometry involves the ionization of a sample to produce either positive or negative ions. These are accelerated in a vacuum system and the mass of the intact molecule determined. In addition the masses of fragments produced during the ionisation processes can be determined to give structural information. Accurate mass measurement of the molecular ions can lead to the determination of elemental composition. A study of the fragmentation patterns can lead to the identification of unknown reaction products through computer library matching. “Soft” ionization techniques such as Chemical Ionization, (CI), Liquid Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (LSIMS, - often called FAB), Matrix-assisted Laser Desorption / Ionization (MALDI), Electrospray Ionization (ESI) and Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization (APCI) can be used to reduce fragmentation and enhance the abundance of the intact molecular ion.

Coupling of chromatography (gas or liquid) to mass spectrometry allows separation and analysis of mixtures. These techniques of GC/MS and LC/MS assist in the identification of organic compounds from a wide variety of sources: synthetic, natural or biomedical.

Outreach for schools and colleges

Swansea University offers a range of activities to School and College students via their Outreach Programme including the two following talks.

Measuring the building blocks of matter!
Dr Ann Hunter with year 6 pupils at Oakleigh House School as part of the School's STEM/STEAM day.

This fully interactive presentation will introduce young students (ages 5 to 11) to the scientific concepts associated with the analytical technique of Mass Spectrometry

Mass Spectrometry: What's in My Painkiller?

Whats in my painkiller?
Year 11 pupils from the local area getting the chance to learn more about future careers in the health sciences by providing workshops and guided tours.

This activity is an interactive presentation which aims to build on student's (ages 12 to 18) understanding of atomic theory and the periodic table, chemical reactions and the analysis of substances in a working analytical environment within a research facility.

Mass Spectrometry: Measuring the Building Blocks of Matter!