Femtosecond Laser System for Biological Mass Spectrometry


Executive Summary


Mass spectrometry is a key analytical tool for analyzing proteins and metabolites. Typically, complex protein mixtures or individual proteins are processed and then introduced to the mass spectrometer. Peptide sequence information is obtained via subjecting individual ions to fragmentation.  Protein identification is achieved by database analysis using sophisticated search algorithms.  However, the limited ability to selectively control or direct the fragmentation reactions of peptide ions place significant restrictions on the application of mass spectrometry for comprehensive proteome analysis. Thus, there is great interest in the development of methods that yield improved sequence information, and that provide selective control over the fragmentation chemistry.


Description of Technology


Michigan State University has developed an ultrafast laser system for biological mass spectrometry. The technology employs a laser beam pulse duration of less than one picosecond to reduce undesired surface charges in an ion-trap mass spectrometer. The laser beam pulse causes the ultrafast loss of an election from the charged ions allowing for further fragmentation and more detailed mass spectrometry analysis. A shaped laser beam pulse is used to characterize and compensate for undesired characteristics in the laser beam pulse when used with an ion-trap mass spectrometer. The technology further includes software which assists in determining whether the desired mass spectra information has been obtained, and if not, can adjust to isolate product ions and cause further ionization and/or fragmentation to occur.


Key Benefits

  • improves the structural analysis of modified proteins
  • take advantage of ultrafast activation, i.e. faster than intramolecular energy redistribution, in order to control the ionization and fragmentation processes
  • greater sequence coverage than conventional methods



  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Biological Mass Spectrometry
  • Protein analysis


Patent Status: 


US Patent 9,202,678


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available


Inventors: Marcos Dantus and Gavin Reid


Tech ID: TEC2009-0045


Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Raymond Devito
Technology Manager
Michigan State University