For research use only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.
Using a mass spectrometer as a "nose" may not be an obvious application, but the analysis of complex aromas and fragrances via MS/MS has been in practice for years. The photograph (circa 1983) shows an early technique for gathering volatile compounds from fruit and directing them towards the atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) ion source of a TAGA 6000 triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. The great thing about analysis by MS/MS with APCI is that it responds to virtually all volatile compounds, provides structural information, and requires minimal sample preparation— all with a minimum of method development. Principal constituents can be identified with high sensitivity and excellent selectivity. It can be used for quality control, contamination and spoilage determination, and adulteration investigations. In addition, compound classes can be identified by the constant neutral loss triple quadrupole scan mode. Measurements over time can give a view of shelf life and the effects of different means of storage. New applications include using mass spectrometry to analyze exhaled breath constituents to provide clues about personal health. The thin membrane between blood and air in the lungs allows diffusion of volatile compounds into breath that can be detected by mass spectrometry. Nowadays, modern mass spectrometer systems offer various alternative ionization technique (DESI, DART,etc) that rely on the similar basic concept; atmospheric pressure ionization and transfer to mass analyszer. These approaches have provided researchers with valuable chemical information with little to no sample preparation.