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High-resolution Electron Impact Ionization Mass Spectrometer equipped with a Gas Chromatograph

English title High-resolution Electron Impact Ionization Mass Spectrometer equipped with a Gas Chromatograph
Applicant Schürch Stefan
Number 198127
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Departement für Chemie, Biochemie und Pharmazie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Organic Chemistry
Start/End 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2021
Approved amount 336'562.00
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All Disciplines (5)

Discipline
Organic Chemistry
Botany
Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Other disciplines of Physics
Inorganic Chemistry

Keywords (9)

chemical ionization; elemental composition determination; accurate mass determination; gas chromatography; electron impact ionization; GC/MS; Orbitrap; high-resolution mass spectrometer; molecular structure elucidation

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die Erforschung biologischer Prozesse und die Entwicklung neuartiger Medikamente und Materialien erfordern exakte analytische Werkzeuge zur Aufklärung molekularer Strukturen. Die hochauflösende Gaschromatographie-Massenspektrometrie (GC/HRMS) ermöglicht die Charakterisierung von komplexen Proben auf molekularer Ebene und ist von zentraler Bedeutung für die Forschung an der Universität Bern.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziele des Forschungsprojekts: Die Abteilung Massenspektrometrie am Departement für Chemie und Biochemie (DCB) unterstützt mit ihrem Instrumentarium und ihrer analytischen Fachkompetenz eine Vielzahl von Forschungsgruppen an der Universität Bern. Die bisher zur Verfügung stehenden Methoden sind primär auf die Analyse von polaren Verbindungen ausgerichtet, während sich Proben geringerer Polarität in der Vergangenheit nur unzureichend charakterisieren liessen. Dies stellte ein wesentliches Hindernis für die Forschungstätigkeit an der Universität Bern dar. Mit der Anschaffung des neuen hochauflösenden Gaschromatographie-Massenspektrometers wird dieses Hindernis beseitigt.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojekts: Die Forschung in vielen Bereichen der Naturwissenschaften und der Medizin verlangt nach genauen Analysemethoden, um die molekularen Strukturen neu entwickelter oder aus natürlichen Quellen isolierten Stoffe aufzuklären. Die Kombination der Gaschromatographie mit der hochauflösenden Massenspektrometrie spielt dabei eine zentrale Rolle, ist diese Technik doch in der Lage, komplexe Gemische aufzutrennen und die Gemischkomponenten zu identifizieren. Ein starker Fokus der heutigen chemischen Forschung liegt auf der Entwicklung umweltfreundlicher Synthesewege zur Herstellung therapeutischer Wirkstoffe und Materialien mit neuartigen Eigenschaften, und diese Arbeiten erfordern exakte massenspektrometrische Daten zur Charakterisierung der Syntheseprodukte. Des Weiteren dient die GC/HRMS der Analyse von Proben pflanzlichen und tierischen Ursprungs und ermöglicht somit die Aufklärung physiologischer Prozesse, oder erlaubt die Identifizierung von Verunreinigungen in Umweltproben und Sedimenten.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.12.2020

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
The study of biological processes and the development of novel therapeutic compounds and materials require accurate analytical tools for the elucidation of molecular structures. Gas chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry (GC/HRMS) enables the characterization of complex mixtures on the molecular level and is therefore of highest importance for research at the University of Bern.
Lay summary

Content and aim of the research project: The mass spectrometry facility at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (DCB) supports the research groups of the University of Bern with its instrumentation and analytical expertise. In the past, the main focus of the facility has been on the analysis of polar samples, while there was a lack of instrumentation for the characterization of less polar compounds. This represented a severe obstacle for the research activities at the University of Bern. This drawback is overcome by the new GC/HRMS instrument. The instrument enables the separation of highly complex mixtures by gas chromatography and the immediate identification of sample components by mass spectrometry. 

Scientific and social context of the research project: Research in many disciplines of the natural sciences and in medicine demands accurate analytical tools for elucidating the molecular structures of compounds obtained from synthesis and from natural sources. Within this context, the combination of gas chromatography with high-resolution mass spectrometry is of key importance. A strong focus of research in modern chemistry is the development of sustainable pathways for the synthesis of therapeutic compounds and materials with novel properties, and these activities require accurate mass spectrometric data for the characterization of synthesis products. Furthermore, GC/HRMS analysis of biological material supports the elucidation of physiological processes on the cellular level, and the technique is indispensable for the identification of compounds in highly complex environmental samples and sediments. 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.12.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

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Abstract

The characterization of compounds on the molecular level is indispensable for research in the many disciplines of the life sciences as well as in earth and environmental science. In order to tailor the properties of novel synthesized compounds, to understand the mechanisms of biological processes, to assess the consequences of human activities to our environment, or to develop efficient setups for carbon dioxide conversion, accurate and sensitive analytical tools are required. Within this context, mass spectrometry (MS) is one of the key technologies for the structural elucidation and quantitation of synthetic and biological compounds, as it is able to cope with very low analyte concentrations and can be combined with upfront chromatographic systems for the separation of mixtures. Due to the wide structural and physico-chemical diversity of analyte molecules, different ionization methods have to be applied. Electrospray ionization (ESI) plays a major role in the analysis of polar compounds and is, among other applications, most frequently used for the mass spectrometric characterization of biomolecules in metabolomics and proteomics research. On the other hand, electron impact ionization (EI) is ideally suited for the ionization of less polar and non-polar volatile compounds originating from synthesis, catalysis, or from natural sources. As the ionization by EI is accompanied by the dissociation of molecular ions in the ion source, specific fragment ions are generated that enable the elucidation of the molecular structures. This greatly benefits the characterization of complex compound mixtures in GC/MS experiments. While the mass spectrometry facility at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (DCB) can handle polar compounds by electrospray ionization (ESI) very well, there is a lack of instrumentation for the separation and mass spectrometric analysis of analytes that cannot be protonated or deprotonated. This situation severely hampers research and publication activities, as the required analytical data cannot be provided. This drawback shall be overcome by the acquisition of a high-resolution electron impact ionization mass spectrometer equipped with a gas chromatograph (GC). This application requests co-funding for the acquisition of a high-resolution GC/MS system (Thermo Fisher Scientific Q Exactive GC Orbitrap) for the analysis of less polar compounds and mixtures thereof. The instrument is suitable for direct sample introduction and upfront gas chromatographic separation of mixtures. The ion source can be changed to chemical ionization. Such instrumentation is currently not available at the University of Bern. The acquisition of the instrument is of great strategic relevance as it will be key to satisfy the analytical needs of numerous research groups in chemistry and further disciplines within the Faculty of Science, including the pharmaceutical sciences, the plant sciences, and the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research. Cutting edge research on an internationally competitive level requires state-of-the-art analytical tools and the requested equipment fills a wide-open gap in the currently available instrumentation at the University of Bern. The instrument will be integrated into the mass spectrometry facility at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and will be accessible to all interested research groups of the University of Bern.
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