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Generation of three-dimensional images in mass spectrometry

13.12.2006
The subject-matter of the invention at hand is the laterally resolved, three-dimensional mass spectrometric imaging. The sample to be analysed is located on a piezo scanning table with which the sample is moved in small, well-defined steps, first in the x,y-plane and later in the z-dimension. The sample is scanned with a highly focused laser beam, and released ions are detected by a Time-of-Flight mass spectrometer. An evaluation module, a part of the present invention, automatically identifies the mass centroids of the scanned area, and thus, image generation does not require pre-scans. Furthermore, the evaluation module is able to calculate both the starting position in the x,y-plane and a height information from the velocities, en-ergies and the time of flight of the detected ions. This information can be used to generate images with colour encodings representing the three-dimensional positions of ions before their release from the sample surface. The invention at hand is suit-able for different ionisation methods and for mass spectrometric procedures with and without a matrix.

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