Mass spectrometer

 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Technical and Scientific Principles
Physical/Chemical Fundamentals
Nature and Knowledge
1970 - 1979

Can you "weigh" atoms? It is not possible by using scales. However, with a mass spectrometer, you can even separate particles of different "weights".

Chemical elements, as they appear in nature, generally contain several isotopes, which are atoms of the same element that have different "weights". Using the mass spectrometer, which was invented in 1916, they can be separated from each other and their mass determined. Using the mass spectrometer, it was also possible to confirm that atoms consist of simple basic components. This had already been suspected by William Prout (1785 - 1850) back in 1815.

The MM60 equipment exhibited in the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) comes from the geochronology laboratory at the Institute of Geological Sciences at Vienna University. It includes the entire power supply, the control and evaluation unit and the curved steel tube with all the accessory devices, primarily the deflection magnets. Starting from an ion source, a beam of charged atoms or molecules moves through the tube in a high-voltage field. The magnetic field deflects the beam to a different extent depending on the mass of the particle, which is why the tube is bent. At the end of the tube, different masses hit at different points and can therefore be differentiated.

Manufacturer: Micromass Ltd., Manchester
Date of construction: around 1975

Inv.Nr. 66166/2

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