Miniaturized high-performance drift tube ion mobility spectrometer


Developing powerful hand-held drift tube ion mobility spectrometers (IMS) requires small, lightweight drift tubes with high analytical performance. In this work, we present an easy-to-manufacture, miniaturized drift tube ion mobility spectrometer, which is manufactured from polyether ether ketone, stainless steel foils and printed circuit boards.

It is possible to operate the drift tube IMS with a radioactive 3H ionization source or a non-radioactive X-ray ionization source with 3 kV acceleration voltage. The drift tube design provides high resolving power of Rp = 63 at a drift length of just 40 mm, 15 mm × 15 mm in cross-section (outer dimensions) and a drift voltage of 2.5 kV. The limits of detection for less than one second of averaging are 40 pptv for dimethyl-methylphosphonate and 30 pptv for methyl salicylate. For demonstration, the miniaturized drift tube IMS is integrated into a stand-alone battery-powered mobile device, including a closed gas-loop, high performance driver electronics and wireless data transmission. In a proof-of-concept study, this device was tested in an international field evaluation exercise to detect the release of a volatile, hazardous substance inside a large entry hall.

André Ahrens, Moritz Hitzemann, Stefan Zimmermann