Process analysis using ion mobility spectrometry

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2006 Mar;384(5):1059-70. doi: 10.1007/s00216-005-3397-8. Epub 2005 Aug 23.


Ion mobility spectrometry, originally used to detect chemical warfare agents, explosives and illegal drugs, is now frequently applied in the field of process analytics. The method combines both high sensitivity (detection limits down to the ng to pg per liter and ppb(v)/ppt(v) ranges) and relatively low technical expenditure with a high-speed data acquisition. In this paper, the working principles of IMS are summarized with respect to the advantages and disadvantages of the technique. Different ionization techniques, sample introduction methods and preseparation methods are considered. Proven applications of different types of ion mobility spectrometer (IMS) used at ISAS will be discussed in detail: monitoring of gas insulated substations, contamination in water, odoration of natural gas, human breath composition and metabolites of bacteria. The example applications discussed relate to purity (gas insulated substations), ecology (contamination of water resources), plants and person safety (odoration of natural gas), food quality control (molds and bacteria) and human health (breath analysis).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Breath Tests / methods
  • Gases / analysis
  • Humans
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrum Analysis / instrumentation*
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis


  • Gases
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical