To determine the molecular composition of the compounds contained within a substance, you can use a mass spectrometer. This device basically ionizes the chemical species within the sample in order to separate molecules by mass and charge. Although a mass spectrometer is very sensitive and can give you accurate readings, it is also prone to slight measurement errors caused by even the slightest changes in the environment or in other variables. Here are 3 tips on how you can ensure optimal accuracy and precision when using this equipment.

Reset Equipment Using Calibration Liquid

Depending on the substances that you are measuring, it may be in your best interest to reset the mass spectrometer by recalibrating it. There are different types of calibration liquid or compounds that you can run through the system to determine whether the measurements are accurate and precise. You can use the calibration liquid and compounds to adjust the relative intensities of mass spec peaks based on whether the substance that is going to used is low or high mass.

Some common calibration liquid or compounds include perfluorotributylamine, which has a molecular weight of 671 and a boiling point between 170 to 180 degrees Celsius, and perfluorotripentyl, which has a molecular weight of 821 and a boiling point of 215 degrees Celsius. As these compounds come in liquid form, you can easily run them through the mass spectrometer before you use it.

Be Notified of Discrepancies with Known Contaminant Samples

Another way to determine whether the measurements and readings that you are getting are accurate or precise or not is to run a sample of a known contaminant down one of the mass spectrometer lanes. If the readings and measurements that you are getting from the sample of known contaminant are as expected, then you can assume that the mass spectrometer is functioning perfectly.

Use Lock-Mass Calibrant to Minimize Anomalies

To constantly calibrate the mass spectrometer to ensure maximum accuracy and precision, invest in a lock-mass calibrant. This device will provide real-time calibration of the measurements and is used to minimize anomalies within the readings. This device can correct mass shift based on temporal fluctuations and other external factors. It can also remove mass error from the readings relative to the ones that have been established by the calibration.


Knowing how to use a mass spectrometer alone will not necessarily give you the measurements that you need. You should also order additional supplies and tools that will help calibrate the system and ensure optimal accuracy and precision. For more information, contact a company that specializes in mass spectrometry supplies.