Revolutionary Interferometric Mass Spectrometry Unleashes New Possibilities in Mass Separation


With the potential for compact mobile devices, interferometric mass spectrometry (Interf-MS) is a pioneering technique that utilizes quantum interference and wave-like properties of samples for mass separation, offering a high dynamic range and complementing traditional methods such as accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS).

Mass spectrometry, a powerful analytical technique with applications in various fields, has undergone a groundbreaking transformation with the introduction of interferometric mass spectrometry (Interf-MS). Unlike its predecessor, accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), Interf-MS utilizes the wave-like properties of samples and offers a high dynamic range, opening up new possibilities in mass separation. Interf-MS has the potential to revolutionize the field by enabling compact devices for mobile applications, analyzing sensitive molecules, and handling neutral samples that are traditionally challenging to ionize. This novel work by Radu Ionicioiu has been proposed in the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (1).

Modern laboratory interior out of focus, including equipment | Image Credit: © tilialucida -

Modern laboratory interior out of focus, including equipment | Image Credit: © tilialucida -

Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) has been a widely used technique for precise mass analysis. However, its reliance on tandem accelerators and large magnets has confined its use to large laboratories. In contrast, Interf-MS presents a paradigm shift by harnessing the principles of quantum interference for mass separation. By leveraging the wave nature of samples, Interf-MS offers unique advantages and complements the particle-like approach of AMS.

In Interf-MS, mass separation occurs based on the absolute mass (m) rather than the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) utilized in AMS. This fundamental difference paves the way for novel applications and analytical strategies. Additionally, Interf-MS operates in the low-velocity regime, unlike the high-velocity regime employed in AMS. This distinction broadens the scope of mass spectrometry and enables the analysis of diverse sample types.

The introduction of Interf-MS holds tremendous promise for various fields of study. Its compact size and mobility potential make it suitable for on-the-go applications, bringing mass spectrometry capabilities to remote locations or field research. Moreover, Interf-MS addresses challenges posed by sensitive molecules that may break during the acceleration stage in conventional mass spectrometry methods.

Furthermore, Interf-MS opens doors for analyzing neutral samples that traditionally pose difficulties in ionization. By leveraging the wave-like properties of neutral molecules, Interf-MS offers a breakthrough in the analysis of these elusive samples.

The emergence of interferometric mass spectrometry represents a significant leap forward in mass separation techniques, expanding the possibilities for researchers across various disciplines. As the field progresses, further advancements and applications of Interf-MS are anticipated, propelling mass spectrometry into new frontiers of scientific exploration.


(1) Ionicioiu, R. Interferometric Mass Spectrometry. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 2023, 34 (6), 1160–1165. DOI:

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