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Atmospheric aerosol, particulate matter suspended in the air we breathe, exerts a strong impact on our health and the environment. Controlling the amount of particulate matter in air is difficult, as there are many ways particles can form by both natural and anthropogenic processes. We gain insight into the sources of particulate matter through chemical composition measurements. A substantial portion of atmospheric aerosol is organic, and this organic matter is exceedingly complex on a molecular scale, encompassing hundreds to thousands of individual compounds that distribute between the gas and particle phases. Because of this complexity, no single analytical technique is sufficient. However, mass spectrometry plays a crucial role owing to its combination of high sensitivity and molecular specificity. This review surveys the various ways mass spectrometry is used to characterize atmospheric organic aerosol at a molecular level, tracing these methods from inception to current practice, with emphasis on current and emerging areas of research. Both offline and online approaches are covered, and molecular measurements with them are discussed in the context of identifying sources and elucidating the underlying chemical mechanisms of particle formation. There is an ongoing need to improve existing techniques and develop new ones if we are to further advance our knowledge of how to mitigate the unwanted health and environmental impacts of particles. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry Volume 12 is June 12, 2019. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Annual review of analytical chemistry (Palo Alto, Calif.)
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A mass spectrometry technique using two (MS/MS) or more mass analyzers. With two in tandem, the precursor ions are mass-selected by a first mass analyzer, and focused into a collision region where they are then fragmented into product ions which are then characterized by a second mass analyzer. A variety of techniques are used to separate the compounds, ionize them, and introduce them to the first mass analyzer. For example, for in GC-MS/MS, GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY-MASS SPECTROMETRY is involved in separating relatively small compounds by GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY prior to injecting them into an ionization chamber for the mass selection.
A microanalytical technique combining mass spectrometry and gas chromatography for the qualitative as well as quantitative determinations of compounds.
An analytical method used in determining the identity of a chemical based on its mass using mass analyzers/mass spectrometers.
A mass spectrometric technique that is used for the analysis of a wide range of biomolecules, such as glycoalkaloids, glycoproteins, polysaccharides, and peptides. Positive and negative fast atom bombardment spectra are recorded on a mass spectrometer fitted with an atom gun with xenon as the customary beam. The mass spectra obtained contain molecular weight recognition as well as sequence information.
A mass spectrometry technique used for analysis of nonvolatile compounds such as proteins and macromolecules. The technique involves preparing electrically charged droplets from analyte molecules dissolved in solvent. The electrically charged droplets enter a vacuum chamber where the solvent is evaporated. Evaporation of solvent reduces the droplet size, thereby increasing the coulombic repulsion within the droplet. As the charged droplets get smaller, the excess charge within them causes them to disintegrate and release analyte molecules. The volatilized analyte molecules are then analyzed by mass spectrometry.