Acronyms in Mass Spectrometry

Nov 01, 2006
pg 47–54


Kenneth L. Busch
Acronyms used in mass spectrometry appear in printed publications of researahers working in established areas, and also are coined at and used in meetings, presentations, and proceedings. The latter especially reflect new applications, with new audiences, each of which generates a unique technical jargon. Acronyms reflect the diverse and vibrant discipline of mass spectrometry, but shorthand-speak can become common, and practitioners in one subdiscipline tend to become more isolated, even in conversation, from their colleagues in other areas. Researchers enjoy coining acronyms as much as the federal government, and our acronym-laden language can become intimidating. Additionally, a new acronym can rise to general use, or can be orphaned and its meaning lost. In this installment, we add more acronyms to the already extensive collection, culled from recent publications, proceedings, and web sites in the field of mass spectrometry. Inclusion of an acronym in this list is not explicitly an endorsement for its use by the community; the nomenclators eventually make their judgments, but the community itself enforces a certain discipline. Immortality in the annals of science is not to be gained by coining a new acronym; a truly useful acronym quickly becomes distributed so widely that its originator is forgotten, and even commercial trademark protection can be insufficient.

For some recent additions to the acronym list, a short description is provided, along with a recent (not necessarily the first) reference. Visit the reference given for a more complete description. Space constraints preclude extensive discussions here — but perhaps later in a future coffee-table book, when mass spectrometers themselves shrink to the same scale. Most acronyms are composed of uppercase letters, but a few traditionally are given as sequences of lowercase letters, or a mixture, and sometimes including punctuation, all to the consternation of spell-checkers, editors, and indexers everywhere. We retain acronyms in this list but not specialized nomenclature or abbreviations. If your favorite acronym is missing, if you would like to argue for an acronym's deletion, or to correct an error, please contact the author at

A Anion
AA Amino acid
ACMS Asilomar Conference on Mass Spectrometry
ADC Analog-to-digital converter
ADO Average dipole orientation
AE Appearance energy
AEI Associated Electric Industries, a past MS manufacturer
AGC Automatic gain control
AGHIS All-glass-heated-inlet system
AMS Accelerator mass spectrometry; adolescent mass spectrometrists
amu atomic mass unit
AN Auger neutralization; application note (in JASMS)
ANP 2-amino-5-nitropyridine (a MALDI matrix)
ANZSMS Australian and New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry
AP Appearance potential; atmospheric pressure
APCI Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization
API Atmospheric-pressure ionization
APPI Atmospheric-pressure photoionization
AREX Axial resonant excitation
ARMS Angle-resolved mass spectrometry
ASGDIMS Atmospheric-sampling glow discharge ionization mass spectrometry
ASMS American Society for Mass Spectrometry
ASTM American Society for the Testing of Materials
ATT 6-Aza-2-thiothymine (a MALDI matrix)
AVS Accelerating-voltage scan; American Vacuum Society


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