I want to know if mass Spectrometry to detect a chemical compound from a long distance, say, a 100 meters away from the device.

Is this possible ?

If not, then what can be used to fulfill this objective ?

Thanks in advance !


Mass spectrometry (magnetic sector or time of flight) cannot be used as the molecule needs to enter the machine, thus by definition not possible for remote detection.

The only method would be to use visible, uv or infrared spectroscopy, and most probably via laser induced fluorescence. This is used, for example, to detect a variety of trace atmospheric species. Long path (miles) absorption methods can also be used. What method to use depends on what you want to detect, how much there is and where it is etc.

  • $\begingroup$ Raman spectroscopy is also pretty common for that. You can use that for example for finding explosives: tuwien.ac.at/en/news/news_detail/article/7417 $\endgroup$ – DSVA Jun 1 '17 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ yes , I had completely forgotten Raman. Its used, for example, to remotely and non-invasively inspect pigments in old master painting and in the combustion reactions in petrol and diesel engines while they are running. $\endgroup$ – porphyrin Jun 2 '17 at 11:07

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