Mass spectrometer

Mass spectrometer

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Credit: ANDREW BROOKES, NATIONAL PHYSICAL LABORATORY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS). This instrument is used to measure the surface of a sample. Here it is being used to determine the distribution of a pharmaceutical compound in a tissue. An ion beam of argon clusters is used to remove molecules from the sample's surface. The molecules are ionised and accelerated towards a detector. The time it takes them to reach the detector depends on their mass. Using the argon clusters allows the chemistry of nanostructures to be reconstructed in high definition 3D molecular images. Photographed at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, UK.

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