HOMENewsWhy helium is used in mass spectrometry?

Why helium is used in mass spectrometry?


Mass spectrometry is a powerful analytical technique used across various scientific disciplines to identify and quantify molecules based on their mass-to-charge ratios. One crucial component that significantly impacts the performance and accuracy of mass spectrometry is the use of helium, a noble gas renowned for its unique properties. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why helium is extensively utilized in mass spectrometry and highlight its significance in achieving precise and sensitive analysis results.



Chemically Inert Nature:

Helium holds immense value in mass spectrometry due to its chemically inert nature. This characteristic ensures that it does not react or interfere with the sample molecules during the analysis. By maintaining a controlled and interference-free environment, helium allows for accurate identification and quantification of target compounds. Its inertness also helps reduce background noise and unwanted chemical reactions that could compromise the integrity of the analysis.


Efficient Ionization:

Ionization is a critical step in mass spectrometry, where sample molecules are converted into charged ions for subsequent separation and detection. Helium is commonly employed as the collision gas in electron ionization (EI), one of the primary ionization techniques used. During EI, high-energy electrons collide with the sample molecules, causing them to fragment and form ions. Helium acts as a buffer gas, facilitating the efficient transfer of energy from the electrons to the target molecules without interfering with the ionization process. This leads to sharper peaks and improved signal-to-noise ratios, enhancing the sensitivity and accuracy of the analysis.


Carrier Gas in Gas Chromatography:

Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is a widely used hyphenated technique combining the separation capabilities of gas chromatography with the analytical power of mass spectrometry. In GC-MS, helium serves as the carrier gas, responsible for transporting the sample molecules through the chromatographic column for separation before entering the mass spectrometer. Helium’s low boiling point, inertness, and high purity make it an excellent choice for this application. It ensures efficient and consistent elution of analytes, leading to well-resolved peaks and improved separation efficiency.


Thermal Conductivity:

Helium’s exceptional thermal conductivity properties are crucial in maintaining optimal instrument performance in mass spectrometry. It aids in efficient cooling within the mass spectrometer, preventing overheating and potential damage to sensitive components. This is particularly important when dealing with high-energy ionization techniques, such as electron impact or atmospheric pressure chemical ionization, where excessive heat can degrade instrument performance. Helium’s ability to dissipate heat effectively ensures stable and reliable operation of the mass spectrometer.


The utilization of helium in mass spectrometry plays a pivotal role in enhancing analytical precision and sensitivity. Its chemically inert nature allows for accurate analysis results by minimizing interference from the surrounding environment. Helium’s efficient ionization capabilities contribute to sharper peaks and improved signal-to-noise ratios, enabling increased sensitivity and accurate identification of target compounds. As a carrier gas in gas chromatography, helium ensures efficient sample transport and improved separation efficiency. Furthermore, its exceptional thermal conductivity properties support optimal instrument performance, preventing overheating and maintaining instrument stability. Overall, helium’s unique properties make it an indispensable component in mass spectrometry, empowering scientists to achieve precise and reliable analytical insights across various scientific disciplines.


At Daxin , we understand the pivotal role helium plays in enhancing the precision and accuracy of mass spectrometry. Our commitment to excellence drives us to craft high-quality mass spectrometers that harness the unique properties of helium, enabling unparalleled analytical capabilities.


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