JAMES HOLMES / OXFORD CENTRE FOR MOLECULAR SCIENCES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES HOLMES / OXFORD CENTRE FOR MOLECULAR SCIENCES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Scientist examining the mass spectrum of myoglobin, the oxygen-storage protein of red muscle, displayed on the computer screen of a VG BIO-Q mass spectrometer used for protein analysis at Oxford University. Mass spectrometers are used to identify chemical compounds by exploiting the behaviour of their molecular ions in magnetic & electric fields. Samples in liquid form are injected into the spectrometer (not seen here). Inside, the substance is ionised by bombardment from high-energy electrons. Variable electric and magnetic fields are used to accelerate & deflect the ions towards a detector.
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