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Getting to the root of carbon storage in deep soils

Land use changes, nutrient depletion, and drought can make plant roots grow deeper into the soil. But scientists question how that growth affects carbon in the soil. Could more roots reaching deep soil layers result in more ...

How nitrogen-fixing bacteria sense iron

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have discovered how nitrogen-fixing bacteria sense iron—an essential but deadly micronutrient.

Secret messages hidden in light-sensitive polymers

Scientists from the CNRS and Aix-Marseille Université have recently shown how valuable light-sensitive macromolecules are: When exposed to the right wavelength of light, they can be transformed so as to change, erase or ...

Fragmenting ions and radiation sensitizers

A new study using mass spectrometry is helping piece together what happens when DNA that has been sensitized by the oncology drug 5-fluorouracil is subjected to the ionising radiation used in radiotherapy.

A substance found in brown coal can help combat viruses

Scientists from Russia have demonstrated a novel approach leveraging high-resolution mass spectrometry and chemoinformatics to identify biologically active molecular components of humic substances extracted from coal, and ...

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Mass spectrometry

Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique for the determination of the elemental composition of a sample or molecule. It is also used for elucidating the chemical structures of molecules, such as peptides and other chemical compounds. The MS principle consists of ionizing chemical compounds to generate charged molecules or molecule fragments and measurement of their mass-to-charge ratios. In a typical MS procedure:

MS instruments consist of three modules: an ion source, which can convert gas phase sample molecules into ions (or, in the case of electrospray ionization, move ions that exist in solution into the gas phase); a mass analyzer, which sorts the ions by their masses by applying electromagnetic fields; and a detector, which measures the value of an indicator quantity and thus provides data for calculating the abundances of each ion present. The technique has both qualitative and quantitative uses. These include identifying unknown compounds, determining the isotopic composition of elements in a molecule, and determining the structure of a compound by observing its fragmentation. Other uses include quantifying the amount of a compound in a sample or studying the fundamentals of gas phase ion chemistry (the chemistry of ions and neutrals in a vacuum). MS is now in very common use in analytical laboratories that study physical, chemical, or biological properties of a great variety of compounds.

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