Fast Atom Bombardment Mass Spectrometry

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  15 Oct 1982:
Vol. 218, Issue 4569, pp. 254-260
DOI: 10.1126/science.218.4569.254


Fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry has become a powerful structural tool since the first reports of its use in 1981. Samples are ionized in the condensed state, usually in a glycerol matrix, by bombarding the matrix with xenon or argon atoms with energies of 5000 to 10,000 electron volts. This yields both positive and negative secondary ions, which are sputtered from the surface. The technique has been used to detect inorganic ion clusters to mass 25,800 and biologically active peptides to mass 5700, and it gives molecular ions of such highly polar or labile organic compounds as glycosphingolipids and polyene antibiotics. It can be especially valuable in determining the sequences of amino acids in polypeptides.