LC-MS/MS analysis

Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) is a highly sensitive analysis technique that detects target analytes in trace quantities. Popular applications include targeted PFAS analysis and food contaminant detection.

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What is LC-MS/MS analysis used for?

The excellent detection capabilities of LC-MS/MS give it applications in multiple fields. Measurlabs offers a range of analysis services with the technique, including the following:

  • Detection and measurement of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food, water, and environmental samples. Testing can be based on EPA Method 1633, which is emerging as the go-to methodology for PFAS screening in the US.

  • Food contaminant screening, including for plant alkaloids, acrylamide, and pesticides.

  • Analysis of active ingredients and impurities (such as nitrosamines) in pharmaceuticals.

  • Testing nutritional supplements for the presence of unauthorized substances.

These are just some examples of popular LC-MS/MS applications. Do not hesitate to contact our chemical analysis experts to discuss the method's suitability for the samples you need analyzed.

How does LC-MS/MS work?

A typical triple quadrupole (QqQ) LC-MS/MS setup initially uses liquid chromatography to separate a sample into its components. The separated components are then ionized and introduced into the first mass spectrometer, which selects ions based on their mass-to-charge ratio. The selected ions are fragmented in a collision cell, and the resulting fragments are passed through a second mass spectrometer before being detected.

Sample requirements and preparation

Before injection into the LC-MS/MS system, samples must be in a diluted liquid or solution form. This often involves dilution with standard solvents like water or acetonitrile. Sample preparation may also include steps to extract, purify, and concentrate analytes and remove interferences. Depending on the target analytes, one option is to use the QuEChERS method, which is used especially for pesticide residue and mycotoxin analysis.

Advantages and limitations of LC-MS/MS analysis

LC-MS/MS offers greater separation of complex samples than conventional LC-MS, allowing the detection of target analytes with a higher degree of specificity. Furthermore, the fragmentation provided by the tandem mass spectrometry allows for the characterization of complex organic molecules and distinguishing them from other molecules with similar mass spectra.

The main drawback of LC-MS/MS is its relatively low throughput. Furthermore, data analysis and characterization, particularly in the case of very complex mixtures, can be time-consuming.

Suitable sample matrices

  • Complex organic mixtures
  • Water, soil, and sediment
  • Biological samples
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food products

Ideal uses of LC-MS/MS

  • Characterizing complex mixtures
  • Detecting contaminants in food, pharmaceuticals, and environmental samples
  • PFAS testing

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Answering the following questions helps us prepare an offer for you faster:

  • How many samples do you have and what is the sample material?
  • Do you have a recurring need for these tests? If yes, how often and for how many samples at a time?

Have questions or need help? Email us at or call +358 50 336 6128.

Frequently asked questions

What is Measurlabs?

Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.

How does the service work?

When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.

How do I send my samples?

Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.