Answer 15.1

a) Work out the characteristics of inorganic mass spectrometry.

Inorganic mass spectrometry aims at analyzing elemental compositions of samples, at detecting trace elements, at determining isotopic compositions of elements, and at measuring isotopic masses with highest accuracy. Molecular composition and integrity are not relevant.

b) How do ionization methods of inorganic mass spectrometry differ from those used for organic and biomedical applications?

Inorganic or element mass spectrometry requires that chemical bonds are all broken up in order to directly access the individual isotopes. Any interference with other isotopes or isobaric diatomic species has strictly to be avoided. Thus, harsh conditions such as plasmas are generally used to achieve atomization and ionization of the sample.

c) Does inorganic mass spectrometry play a role in life science?

From the point of view of the majority of life science MS applications such as proteomics, metabolomics or lipidomics it does not. Nonetheless, there is element speciation analysis to reveal the presence of certain elements in biological samples, e.g., selenium peptides, or the use of element MS to track the deposition of transition metals in tissues.