Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Tandem MS, or mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (MS/MS), is the linking of several quadrupoles together. The most common configuration is the triple quads where three quadrupole analyzers are linked in series (Fig. 2). The first quadrupole acts as the mass filter allowing only ions having specific m/z ("precursor" or "parent" ions) to pass to the second quadrupole, called the "collision cell" where further fragmentation into "product" (or "daughter") ions takes place. The third quadrupole will further select one or more of the product ions to pass through to the detector.

Tandem MS offers tremendous advantages in selectivity of compounds. The added selectivity due to additional characterization of the product ions reduces the dependence on the chromatographic method to provide a single pure compound to the mass

Quadrupole 1 Quadrupole 2 Quadrupole 3

Quadrupole 1 Quadrupole 2 Quadrupole 3

Fig. 2. Schematic of a triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometer. Quadrapoles 1 and 3 are mass filters, quadrupole 2 is where further fragmentation of product ions selected by quadrupole 1 takes place.

Fig. 2. Schematic of a triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometer. Quadrapoles 1 and 3 are mass filters, quadrupole 2 is where further fragmentation of product ions selected by quadrupole 1 takes place.

spectrometer. Thus, tandem MS decreases the need for an elaborate sample preparation step and complicated chromatography protocol. When coupled with the added selectivity of an HPLC chromatographic separation, interferences in a well-designed MS/MS assay can be very low.

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