Tools of the Trade
This section of our Web site highlights tools and techniques used by scientists here at the MagLab. We are adding to it over time, so check back again soon for new entries.
All mass spectrometers require the molecules to be in the gas phase and charged (ionized either positive or negative). Below are a few methods used at the MagLab.
Atmospheric Pressure Photoionization (APPI)
In the APPI technique, UV light photons are used to ionize sample molecules.
Electrospray Ionization (ESI)
Electrospray ionization is a popular technique in mass spectroscopy for ionizing samples before they are measured. ESI works well with heavier compounds and is therefore often used in proteomics (analysis of proteins) and petroleomics (analysis of petroleum).
Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization (MALDI)
MALDI, a method of ionization that has been widely used since its introduction in the late 1980s, has been of great help to scientists studying polymers, proteins and other heavy molecules. This is how it works.
Meet the Probes
A magnet without a probe is like a drill without a bit. Learn what these crucial tools do and how lab experts make some of the most novel probes in magnet science.
The Rodent Probe
This probe allows biologists to study health problems such as migraines and head injuries using live animals as large as rats, making our 900 MHz magnet the largest MRI machine in the world.
The Magic Angle Spinning Probe
Spinning faster than almost anything on Earth, this probe allows scientists to do NMR studies of solid state samples.
The Low-E Probe
This tool makes possible more research on heat-sensitive samples such as proteins.
The High-Temperature Superconducting Probe
This probe allows researchers to do an in-depth analysis using only a drop of sample.
Dilution fridges owe their cooling power to the incredible element helium. This animation illustrates how dil fridges exploit the element's properties to make things very, very cold.
Scientists use image furnaces to grow crystals at very high temperatures; a built-in camera allows them to observe in action a delicate process that is equal parts art and science.
A faraday cage is an important tool for some scientists at the MagLab. But they don't work with it – they work inside it.
Meet the Magnets
We'd like to introduce you to a few of the amazing magnets that make our facility so unique and make possible new discoveries in science.