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Chemical sampling interface features simplicity, speed

August 26, 2015
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
In mere seconds, a device that can identify and characterize a solid or liquid sample.

Material dissolved in the liquid at the port tip is immediately transported into the mass spectrometer, ionized, detected and characterized.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

In mere seconds, a system developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory can identify and characterize a solid or liquid sample, providing a valuable tool with applications in material science, forensics, pharmaceuticals, biology and chemistry.

The device and technique, created by Gary Van Berkel and Vilmos Kertesz of ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division, is described in the journal Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. The appeal of this open port sampling interface, researchers note, is its elegance, speed and ease of use.

"The simplicity of our device allows even novices with the means to introduce unprocessed solid or liquid samples into a mass spectrometer without fear of instrument contamination," Van Berkel said.

To identify a compound, researchers simply touch the object of interest to the solvent dome at the sampling end of the probe, which is connected to a mass spectrometer. Almost instantaneously, a screen displays data that identifies the chemical and its approximate concentration.

Because this approach requires no sample preparation and the device is self-cleaning, the system is especially attractive for a wide range of applications, Van Berkel said. He expects the first versions of the patent-pending device to be a cost-effective addition to existing mass spectrometry systems that are commonplace in university, government and clinical laboratories.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Gary J. Van Berkel and Vilmos Kertesz. An Open Port Sampling Interface for Liquid Introduction Atmospheric Pressure Ionization Mass Spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 2015 DOI: 10.1002/rcm.7274

Cite This Page:

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Chemical sampling interface features simplicity, speed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 2015. <>.
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (2015, August 26). Chemical sampling interface features simplicity, speed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Chemical sampling interface features simplicity, speed." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 23, 2017).