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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Replacement and Upgrade for Workhorse GCMS in the Chemistry Instrument Center for Characterization of Small Molecule Synthesis Products and Side Products


This project will provide a gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GCMS) instrument to replace out-of-date equipment, provide increased resolution in measurements, allow new types of experiments to be performed, and provide the only triple quadrupole mass spec analyzer on campus. Several labs depend on this equipment and upgrading to state-of-the art is beneficial.  Triple quadrupole instruments are the gold standard for quantification by mass spectrometry.

When operating with all three quadrupoles, several new types of experiments are now possible. In one, each component of a mixture can be fragmented to produce a mass fingerprint to compare with literature data or to help the user figure out the structure by knowing the mass of its fragments. A second use takes advantage of specific compound fragments for quantification. The user sets the system up to monitor particular fragments rather than the total mass of a compound. This can significantly improve the reproducibility of the experiment.

The project includes updating the National Institute of Standards and Technology Library that includes electron impact spectra of most solvents, many solvent impurities, many well-known starting materials, and other published spectra. Being able to compare newly obtained spectra with the Library saves GCMS users lots of time and guesswork.


John Berry, professor of chemistry


Martha Vestling, director of mass spectrometry in chemistry


Shannon Stahl, professor of chemistry

Jeff Martell, assistant professor of chemistry

Daniel Weix, professor of chemistry

Tehshik Yoon, professor of chemistry


Paul Bender Chemistry Instrument Center