Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry: Biological Applications

The Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Minnesota are collaborating on a seminar series titled: "Making the Best of a Bad Situation: A Characterization Seminar Series". On May 13, 2020, I gave a webinar on time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and its application in biological and medical research.



Title: Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry: Biological Applications

Host: Sebastiaan Van Nuffel, Pennsylvania State University

When: May 13, 2020 12pm – 1pm ET

Abstract: This seminar will discuss time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and its application in biological and medical research. ToF-SIMS allows for 3D chemical imaging by combining molecular ion imaging and depth profiling, which offers a novel, label-free way to investigate biological samples such as tissue sections and even single cells. The types of molecules ToF-SIMS can detect are varied: it can detect elements as well as inorganic and organic molecules with a mass smaller than 2000 Da. The types of biomolecules that can be observed are nucleobases, amino acids, sugars, metabolites and intact lipids. It is also possible to detect non-native compounds such as drugs and toxins. The ability of imaging mass spectrometry to investigate the localization of specific native and non-native compounds in single cells and tissue sections in a label-free manner creates exciting, new avenues for biological, medical and pharmaceutical research. Although this technique has tremendous potential, there are also a series of challenges such as the difficult sample preparation, sensitivity and quantification issues and the complicated analysis of hyperspectral image data.

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