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Exploring applications of spatial-map and velocity-map imaging mass spectrometry (ImageMS)
Start date: 01 Jun 2008, End date: 31 May 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Our aim is to develop a next-generation mass spectrometer with unique imaging capabilities. For each mass, the new instrument will image the complete velocity or spatial distribution of the ions at their point of formation. The velocity distributions of fragment ions are highly sensitive to the detailed dynamics of the fragmentation process, such that in velocity imaging mode the new instrument will provide a powerful alternative to conventional tandem mass spectrometry approaches for fragmentation studies. In addition to the mechanistic and structural information encoded the images, the set of photofragment velocity distributions constitutes a unique ‘fingerprint’ for the parent molecule that may be used in molecular identification. In spatial imaging mode, there are clear applications in the areas of surface analysis and high throughput sampling, both of which will be explored over the course of the project. The spectrometer will utilise the method of velocity/spatial-map imaging, a technique originally developed for studying the photofragmentation dynamics of small molecules. A standard velocity-map imaging measurement yields the detailed speed and angular distributions for a single fragment. However, by employing advanced detector technology, our instrument will be capable of recording such distributions for all fragments simultaneously, opening the way for the study of much larger molecules with complex fragmentation pathways. A working prototype of the spectrometer will be constructed within the first year of the project, with further developments and improvements taking place over the remaining four years. The instrument will be calibrated using results from previous studies, and its capabilities in both spatial and velocity-map imaging modes will then be explored using a number of carefully chosen chemical systems. These include fundamental dynamics studies, ultraviolet photodissociation of peptides, and imaging of biomolecules and single cells on surfaces.
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