First-ever analysis of neutral particles by mass spectrometry
Categorie(s) : Events, MINATEC, News, Research
Published : 1 June 2015
Researchers from INAC, Leti, and IRTSV recently completed the first-ever successful analysis of neutral particles by mass spectrometry. The scientific achievement, which took place right here in Grenoble, was praised by an article in Nature Communications. The researchers chose to bypass traditional spectrometry methods, preferring to use nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS), whose resonance frequency varies depending on the mass being supported. In this particular case, the mass was made up of nanometric copper and tantalum aggregates.
Biology a top-priority application
NEMS mass spectrometry has the advantage of being fully operational for non-ionized particles and/or very heavy particles—for which traditional spectrometry is not ideal. These advantages make the technique particularly attractive for biological research and clinical applications, where it can be used to detect things like viruses and protein complexes.
The method also marks a leap forward in the analysis of certain objects, previously hindered by the fact that particles were ionized prior to analysis—with NEMS the particles are not ionized.
The ten scientists who worked on this project filed for four patents and are pursuing their work on two NEMS spectrometers, one at INAC and one at Nanobio. They have also started work on a new system dedicated to neutral spaces and to NEMS for specific applications, with the goal of ultimately transferring the system to a spectrometry equipment manufacturer.
The next step will be to carry out an initial demonstration of the method on a biological species never before measured. The demonstration—slated for 2017—will validate the effectiveness of the technology.