Proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry is an analytical technique for identifying volatile organic compounds emitted by heritage materials. This technique enables real-time monitoring of volatile organic compounds at ultra-low detection limits and with rapid response times.


During proton-transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) analysis, the air being analyzed is continuously pumped through a reaction chamber, where volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are ionized during proton transfer reactions with H3O+ ions. The ions produced are then measured with a mass analyzer. Analyses can be carried out on a variety of heritage objects (and their materials) such as graphic documents, natural history specimens, photographic or cinematographic films, synthetic polymers in design objects, varnishes or adhesives.


The transportable PTR-MS instrument of the CRC (VOCUS S TOFWERK) comprises:

- an ion source for high-purity (>98%) H3O+ ion production and a temperature-controlled and pressure-regulated reaction chamber

- a compact time-of-flight (ToF) analyzer with high resolution (m/Δm FWHM over 4000 for xylene) and high sensitivity (> 4000 cps/ppb for xylene in 1 minute), with an acquisition frequency of up to 40 Hz (25ms)

- an MCP detector enabling a low detection limit for xylene for an acquisition time of one minute (< 5 ppt)

- a hardware and software system for data acquisition under Igor Pro (WaveMetrics).


Michel Sablier : / +33 1 40 79 53 23

Sophie Cersoy : / + 33 1 40 79 53 05


Published on: 20/07/2023 16:56 - Updated on: 29/08/2023 16:51