Development of Miniature Mass Spectrometers at Purdue

We have been working on miniaturization of mass spectrometers since 1991 when we built the first miniature ion trap, see Kaiser et al.  We have explored two approaches:

Bottom-Up Approach

  • Miniaturization begins with a micro-scale mass analyzer; an instrument is built around it.
  • Examples: Micron-scaled CIT arrays built by Blain et al. and Ramsey et al.
  • Because the individual trap size is small, the traps are arranged in a parallel array to increase the number of ions stored.

Top-Down Approach

  • Miniaturization begins with existing lab-scale instrumentation and shrinks the individual components.
  • Takes advantage of developments in technology to reduce the overall size without sacrificing performance.
  • A Moore's Law like effect is evident and a series of increasingly small instruments has been built (mini10, mini11, etc.)


  • R.E. Kaiser, Jr., R.G. Cooks, G.C. Stafford, Jr., J.E.P. Syka and P.H. Hemberger "Operation of a Quadrupole Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer to Achieve High Mass/Charge Ratios", Int. J. Mass Spectrom. Ion Proc., 106 (1991) 79-115
  • Matthew G. Blain, Leah S. Riter, Dolores Cruz, Daniel E. Austin, Guangxiang Wu, Wolfgang R. Plass, and R. Graham Cooks, "Towards the Hand-Held Mass Spectrometer: Design Considerations, Simulation, and Fabrication of Micrometer-scaled Cylindrical Ion Traps," Int. J. Mass Spectrom., 2004, 236 (1-3), 91-104. doi: 10.1016/j.ijms.2004.06.011
  • Liang Gao, Qingyu Song, Garth E. Patterson, R. Graham Cooks, and Zheng Ouyang, "Handheld Rectilinear Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer", Analytical Chemistry, 2006, 78(17), 5994-6002, doi: 10.1021/ac061144k

Miniaturization in other Research Groups:


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