Mass spectrometry sample submission procedure

Mass spectrometers have low detection limits; however, the ionization of analytes may be suppressed by contaminants (including common buffer salts and detergents) present in samples. Many commonly used reagents especially for biological samples have poor compatibility with mass spectrometric ionization techniques. Additionally, the mass spectrometer can be contaminated or clogged if crude samples containing non-volatile components are introduced into the instrument.

Consequently, sample preparation is a critical component of a mass spectrometric analysis and directly relates to the quality of data the instruments can realize.

Any questions you may have regarding sample preparation, data interpretation, or method of analysis are welcome, especially if the amount of sample is limited or you require special sample handling.

If you wish to submit samples to the mass spectrometry laboratory for analysis, please follow the guidelines for each mass spectrometry technique listed below.

  • In all cases, submit your sample in a vial clearly labeled with a sample identification code (taping an unlabeled container to the sample submission form does not constitute sufficient labeling), and fill out a sample submission form. Submit your samples in screw-capped vials (caps preferably lined with TFE) as neat liquids or dry solids. On the sample submission form, please indicate suggested solvent(s) for your compound for LC/MS and ESI analyses.
  • Intact protein and peptide samples for molecular weight and/or purity determinations should be submitted as lyophilized solids or as aqueous solutions in vials. In either case composition of the sample with regard to the anticipated amount of analyte, as well as salts, buffers, and detergents MUST BE NOTED.
  • Any special safety or sample handling precautions the operator should take with your sample should be indicated on the sample submission form.
  • Please note that the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory is NOT equipped to handle radioactive samples.

We are always available to discuss the capabilities of the laboratory, provide advice on what preparative and analytical methods to use, and discuss the interpretation of results. We are here to help and are happy to do so.