Mass Analyzer

The quadrupole mass spectrometer is the most common mass detector in use for drugs of abuse testing. The quadrupole analyzer is a set of four rods. At one radio frequency (rf) and DC voltage on the two sets of diagonally opposed rods, only ions of a single m/z value are "selected" and travel through the analyzer to the detector; all other ions with different m/z values are lost on collision to the rods. By scanning the rf and DC voltages, ions of increasing m/z values can be selected to travel to the detector, thus generating a mass spectrum.

Another mass analyzer, the ion trap, is a special version of the quadrupole. Ions are "trapped" within a three-dimensional space formed by the four "rods" rather than allowed to pass through as in a standard quadrupole. By changing the applied rf voltage, ions of increasing m/z values are ejected from the "trap" and directed to the detector.

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