Mass spectrometry is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of specific ions. There are various types of mass spectrometers, each of which can perform different services, or have different methods of preparation.
One of the most popular types of mass spectrometry is gas chromatography. A gas chromatography machine works by creating gas phase ions from the given sample. Each ion is fragmented multiple times. Those ion fragments are then separated according to their mass-to-charge ratio. Check out the graphic below for a simple version of the gas chromatography process.
Another type of mass spectrometry is liquid chromatography. Liquid chromatography is similar to gas chromatography, except that the mobile phase is liquid instead of gas. This liquid is most often a combination of water, solvents, and samples prepared beforehand.
Another type of mass spectroscopy is Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation (MALDI). MALDI is primarily used for non-volatile organic compounds of higher mass. It is especially good for the analysis of proteins and peptides.
But, each lab and research center will have different types of mass spectroscopy machines available for use. That is why it is important to do your research on the labs in your area before you arrive. You will need to determine what type of mass spectrometry is best for your sample and needs.
Mass spectrometers are very costly, and it is quite unlikely that a start up will have the funds to purchase one for exclusive use. But, there is good news! Many universities and incubators provide use of their equipment for a per sample or per hour fee.
Often, if you are a member of a co-working wet lab or incubator, services will be extremely discounted. Below is a table comparing the prices of mass spectrometer uses at various universities, and the ULP rate.
ULP Non-profit Rate w/ UCI
|UCI||UCLA||UCR||UCSD (non UC rates)|
|Low Resolution Mass Analysis (ESI or GC/MS)||$10 per sample||$50 per sample||$56 per sample||$42 per sample||$44 per sample|
|High Resolution Mass Validation (ESI or GC/MS)||$35 per sample||$150 per sample||$115 per sample||N/A||$72.50 per sample|
|MALDI-TOF||$25 per hour||$150 per hour||N/A||$84 per sample||$72.50 per sample|
||$120 per 48 samples||$200 per 48 samples||N/A||N/A||
$123.25 (per hour)
|LC-MS (Low-Res)||$25 per sample||$50 per sample||$77 per sample||$84 per sample||$72.50 per sample|
|LC-MS (High-Res)||$60 per sample||$150 per sample||$167 per sample||N/A||$145 per sample|
|Staff time (new method set-up or complex analysis)||$150 per hour||$150 per hour||N/A||N/A||$145 per hour|
Dr. Kym F. Faull
If you are interested in flow cytometers, check out this ULP article detailing the costs of Southern California flow cytometer use.