JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Chromatography column. Technician examining a chromatography column leading into a mass spectrometer. The column (thin wire) is packed with small beads which separate the sample into different fractions. This technique is often used to separate proteins. The fractions are then run into the mass spectrometer, which ionises and fragments the molecules, and fires the fragments through a magnetic field. The amount the fragments deviate is indicative of their mass and charge. This can provide detailed information on the fractions' structures. This technique can be used to study many molecules, from massive biological proteins to tiny diatomic gases.
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