How far can ion trap miniaturization go? Parameter scaling and space-charge limits for very small cylindrical ion traps


  • Y. Tian,

  • J. Higgs,

  • A. Li,

  • B. Barney,

  • D. E. Austin



Like most pieces of technology, mass spectrometers get faster, more sensitive, more accurate and in some cases also get smaller. Because of this last evolution, mass spectrometers are now progressively becoming portable. Targeted applications are the detection and identification of chemical warfare agents in the field, the monitoring of air pollution and environmental quality, the inspection of explosives and drugs, as well as the analysis of gases during space exploration. In this perspective special feature article, Pr. Daniel Austin and colleagues first summarize the different approaches that have been used in miniaturization efforts to date, explore the various constraints that define how operational parameters scale with ion trap size, and finally propose simulations to demonstrate the scaling of trapping capacity with ion trap size, allowing projections for future miniaturization. Daniel Austin is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Brigham Young University (Provo, UT). The main interest of his research group is to develop novel (miniaturized) mass spectrometry instrumentation and applications.