February 7, 2023

Q-TOF Mass Spectrometers Help Accelerate Drug Discovery and Development

This series looks at how Shimadzu products and technology help contribute to society and industries. Today’s topic is mass spectrometers.

In this article, we introduce our most advanced quadrupole TOF (Q-TOF) mass spectrometer, which has the highest levels of mass accuracy stability available, and describe how Q-TOF mass spectrometers are used in the pharmaceutical industry.


Overview of Mass Spectrometers

Substances consist of atoms and molecules, which are collections of atoms or charged ions. A mass spectrometer is an instrument used to ionize substances, separate the produced ions by their mass, and measure them.

Atoms and molecules have inherent masses. Specifying their masses using a mass spectrometer makes it possible to investigate which substances are present, and in what quantities.

Quadrupole Time-of Flight Mass Spectrometers

There are various types of mass spectrometers. Quadrupole TOF mass spectrometers separate the ions using the following method.

  Voltage is applied to four parallel metal rods (the quadrupole), and ions travel selectively through the quadrupoles between the rods.
  The ions travel through a flight tube as they fly to the detector. The difference in the time of flight (TOF) for each ion is derived, and then converted to the difference in mass.

Quadrupole TOF systems are characterized by high mass resolving power and high sensitivity.

Accelerating Drug Discovery and Development

Mass spectrometers are used for a variety of applications, including food analysis, chemical analysis, environmental testing, and cosmetic and personal care products development. In addition, they are prominently used in the pharmaceutical industry, primarily for drug discovery and development.

Comment from the Employee Involved in Flagship Model Development

In June 2022, Shimadzu released the LCMS-9050 quadrupole TOF mass spectrometer. As Shimadzu’s top-class model, it can simultaneously measure positive and negative ions at the world’s fastest rate. The system enables acquisition of highly reliable data in half the time as the previous model, while the mass resolving power has been increased by 1.5, enabling even more accurate measurements.

Let’s hear from an employee involved in its development.

Shimadzu has been manufacturing mass spectrometers for more than 50 years. We succeeded in releasing this flagship model in a short time by utilizing the high-speed and high-sensitivity measurement techniques cultivated through our experience with triple quadrupole mass spectrometers.

The simultaneous measurement of positive and negative ions capable with the LCMS-9050 is achieved by our proprietary patented technology and is unique to this type of instrument. It’s also clearly superior to previous models in terms of usability.

Precisely because mass spectrometry is a difficult technique, making the instrument easy to operate will result in underpinning product development and quality improvement in a wide range of fields. We will continue to hone our expertise, aiming for a future in which today’s flagship model becomes a general-purpose model.

Example of LCMS-9050 system configuration

System Configuration Example


Check the Press Release of LCMS-9050


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