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Designing and building a mass spectrometer.

  1. Aug 5, 2006 #1
    I am a double major in EE and physics and I was thinking that a great senior project would be to design and build my own mass spectrometer. I would not only like to build the basic device, but also calibrate the device so that it provides the m/q value based on the radius of curvature caused by the B-field, and also provides the relative abundance of these m/q values, like a real mass spectrometer. I would like this to be displayed on an LCD screen of some sort possibly.

    I have a good understanding of how mass spectrometers work and it seems like this is feasible. Am I out of my mind? I have 2 years before my senior design project is due, and I think I am going to get started on my project very soon. I plan on designing all of the power electronics (such as the rectifier and ripple voltage reduction circuitry) myself. Any advice or suggestions?

    I want to find a project that is heavy on the E&M calculations since it is one of my favorite topics, and this came to mind. It seems like an exciting endeavor.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2006 #2


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    I would think that the vacuum would be difficult to deal with.
  4. Aug 5, 2006 #3
    This is what I was thinking. I would need expensive high vacuum equipment.
  5. Aug 5, 2006 #4


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    I was thinking more along the line of just building a case that won't implode.
    You might be able to find a pump that could empty it out enough to do something fairly cheap.
    Kind of depends on what you are willing to live with for resolution.
  6. Aug 5, 2006 #5
    Well, I don't plan on building something extremely high end....just something that works. Really my goal is to just be able to pick out the m/q value with the highest abundance so I can determine the molecular weight of various substances. Once I get int othe project and start realizing that I may be able to tackle a project with higher resolution then I will consider more high end equipment.
  7. Aug 6, 2006 #6


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    Being interested in something has always been a good enough reason for me.

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