Spectrometry is an analytical technique that is used to analyze the fundamental components of a radiation or ion beam’s spectrum. There are two main divisions of spectrometry, which involve the use of electromagnetic radiation and ionization (also known as mass spectrometry), respectively. The former division of spectrometry uses electromagnetic radiation from different regions of an electromagnetic spectrum as the source of energy whereas the latter uses high energy electrons as its energy source. Another technique, namely spectroscopy involves the study of absorption and emission of light and other radiation by matter. The main difference between spectroscopy and spectrometry is that spectroscopy is the study of interaction between matter and radiated energy when exposed to electromagnetic radiation, whereas spectrometry platforms are based on the technique used for obtaining a quantitative spectrum measurement.
Various Types of Spectrometry Platforms
Several spectroscopic techniques, such as X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma–optical emission spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy are being actively evaluated to increase their application areas, along with improved analytical performance. For example, infrared spectroscopy can measure nanoscale samples that must be in its dry form. The other technique that has proven to be valuable at nanoscale involves a combination of atomic force microscopy and infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR); it provides information on the chemical, structural, and mechanical properties of biological materials at nanoscale.
Spectrometry plays a crucial role in the discovery and development of materials, such as foods, chemicals and fuels. Various innovations in spectrometers, such as introduction of a microprocessor, laser and advanced detectors have resulted in pacing up the launch of high performance instruments with a high degree of automation. The advancements in the instrumentation used for mass spectrometry offering enhanced sensitivity, resolution and speed, have allowed for significant characterization of complex proteomes of food. The coupling of mass spectrometry equipment with chromatography has resulted in greater sensitivity, selectivity, specificity, and rapidity, thereby widening the applicability of the instruments. Novel quantitative mass spectrometry platform can be used to determine site-specific protein O-GlcNAcylation dynamics. Other examples of novel spectrometry platforms include MALDI-TOF MS, which is used for the identification of mycobacteria and laser spectrometer, developed by researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) and can be used to determine the molecular composition of biologicals samples.
Applications of Spectrometry Platforms
Determination of concentration of chemical elements
Characterization and identification of organic molecules. Quality control in pharmaceutical, chemical and food processing industries
Quantitation of pesticides
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
Organic Chemistry analysis
Quality control in pharmaceutical, chemical and food processing industries
Uranium detection in nuclear field
Future Prospects In Novel Spectrometry
Mass spectrometry is considered to be the most sensitive analytical technique, which has become a valuable tool for a range of professionals, including physicists, chemists, biologists, physicians, astronomers, and geologists. This technique can be used in different fields, such as chemical, electronics, food processing, petroleum, and pharmaceutical industries and the various trends associated with the applications of mass spectrometry have been briefly described below:
Miniature mass spectrometry for in situ analysis: Earlier, the use of mass spectrometry was limited to laboratories due to several constraints, such as equipment weight, size and the requirement of electrical power. However, the advancements in this domain have resolved these challenges. Presently, quadrupole is the most common miniaturized mass spectrometer available.
Mass spectrometry for rapid biological tissue analysis: It is an emerging tool for the treatment of cancer and rapid clinical diagnostics. The integration of ambient ionization techniques with mass spectrometry has led to rapid tissue analysis, thereby enabling immediate medical decisions.
Moreover, recent advancements, such as coupling mass spectrometry with liquid chromatography has increased the applicability of spectrometry. Further, the introduction of new ionization methods, such as electrospray ionization (ESI), matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) has contributed to the development of novel platforms, thereby widening the scope and accessibility of spectrometry.
Currently, 28 companies worldwide are actively engaged in developing novel spectrometers.