In an industry packed with acronyms, let’s take a moment to decode a new one: HPMS.
: the ability to operate at pressures at or above 1 Torr reducing the vacuum requirements significantly and the need for a turbo pump.
: an instrumental method for identifying the chemical constitution of a substance by means of the separation of ions according to their differing mass and charge.
HPMS is quite literally the act of performing mass spectrometry at much higher pressures – 10,000 times the pressure of a conventional mass spec. It sounds like the operation of a large piece of equipment, but is actually quite the opposite.
Traditional mass spectrometers require big turbo pumps or molecular drag pumps that are expensive, bulky, extraordinarily power hungry and extremely fragile. This makes it very difficult to conceive of ever making one in a low-cost and small-form-factor that could work for a miniature mass spec.
But, the use of micro ion traps offered us a unique alternative. Our HPMS systems contain multiple traps each measuring around 1mm in diameter. These traps allow for operation much closer to atmospheric pressures and therefore, enable the use of smaller pumps, ionizers, detectors and electronics. We were able to develop a vacuum pump that weighs 200 grams rather than the typical 85 pounds, and achieves the needed sample flow with extremely low power consumption. The whole vacuum chamber is only around 2 cubic centimeters, which is very important in enabling the system to turn on and pump down extremely quickly.
By eliminating the problematic turbo and using only a rugged, miniature pump to reach operating pressures, unprecedented reductions in the size, weight and power requirements were achieved. It is this high-pressure approach that has enabled us to develop these ridiculously small, commercial systems that give you the confidence of mass spectrometry whenever, wherever.