3 reasons why you should upgrade from UV detection to Mass Spectrometry

From enhanced selectivity to rapid identification of analytes in samples, the capabilities of Mass Spectrometry (MS) are well known to the analytical chemist. Limiting factors such as cost, space and expert knowledge are a few reasons why these powerful instruments have previously been restricted to specialised labs. As such, LC-UV has historically been the method of choice in most laboratories for detecting compounds and molecules.

However, with the advent of miniaturised mass spectrometers, the benefits of MS can easily be brought into many processes, including to upgrade HPLC-UV analysis.

Below we outline the top three reasons to upgrade your system:

1: Better and quicker confirmation of the identity of analytes

UV is a common detection method in HPLC, telling us when compounds are eluting from the column and their retention time. However, this information alone is insufficient for a complete analysis as there are potentially many compounds that may elute at the same time.

How does the addition of a compact mass spectrometer improve this situation? 

Mass detection adds a new dimension to the analytical signal, namely the mass to charge ratio (i.e. the molecular weight of the analyte). Combining UV-detection with mass detection helps users come to a more precise conclusion and informs better decision making. It allows us to determine not just the retention time, but the order in which the analytes are eluting from the column based on their molecular weight. This increases the certainty, clarity and confidence in your results, saving you time and leading to a faster analysis.

2: Better selectivity makes the analysis much easier

UV measures the absorption of compounds in the ultraviolet (190 – 360 nm) or visible (360 – 800 nm) wavelengths and spectra, however the resulting chromatogram can be very complex to interpret. For example, it is extremely difficult to distinguish between two analytes with the same or similar retention times from the UV spectra alone.

How does the addition of a miniaturized mass spectrometer improve this situation? 

Mass detection considerably enhances selectivity by offering peak identification in real-time and specifically looking for the analytes based on their molecular weight. Even though it is likely for two similar analytes to have identical UV-Vis spectra, it is very rare for them to have the same mass. Therefore, the addition of a mass-selective detector is more effective.

3: Greater sensitivity to enable users to see the full picture

Even though the data acquired by UV-detectors is useful, these absorbance detectors only provide good sensitivity for light-absorbing compounds.  Therefore, there is always the question of whether we are seeing the full picture?

How does benchtop mass spectrometry improve this situation? 

Adding mass detection enables the detection of components with poor chromophores. Not just for the main peak, but also co-elution compounds at levels of 0.1% can be detected, highlighting that MS is inherently more sensitive than UV.

Conclusion

Improved identification, selectivity and sensitivity through the addition of MS in turn enhances productivity.  In practice, this means upgrading to MS will save you time, money and make your results more meaningful.

Miniaturisation has been key to overcoming the challenges that MS-detection has faced in the past, making it a readily available and easily deployable technique in analytical chemistry. The small footprint and plug-n-play concept of our 4500 MiD® makes our mass detector an extremely powerful tool for even non-specialist users. Reduced power and gas consumption and reduced maintenance costs make our “green” system the most environmentally friendly compact mass spectrometer in the market.

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