Ambient Ionisation

AMBIENT IONISATION MASS SPECTROMETRY allows the rapid analysis of samples or objects from their native state. The ability to provide selective analyte desorption and ionisation, in an open environment with no prior preparation, has given rise to a number of powerful analytical alternatives, both quantitative and qualitative in nature. Since the commercial availability of a few such techniques have enabled these techniques to be widely adapted within many industries including pharmaceutical analysis, process chemistry, biological imaging, in vivo analysis, proteomics, metabolomics, forensics, and explosives detection.   As yet more ambient ionisation techniques continue to emerge, and the complementary nature of existing desorption and/or ionisation techniques, additional hyphenated methods have been devised, which pushes the total number of documented methods to almost thirty.

The field of ambient MS has progressed rapidly in the last few years, with key advances in both technological and mechanistic understanding creating new directions, which often seem limited only by the imagination of the scientist. Arguably, this area of science could be described as being in its formative years and recommendations have been made for closer investigation of sampling heterogeneity, ion suppression effects, and a critical evaluation of areas for improvement. It is for these reasons that the Ambient Ionisation SIG has been formed. The aims of the SIG are to support BMSS practitioners of ambient ionisation MS, demonstrate the applicability of the different techniques to different application areas, investigate sampling heterogeneity towards better quantitative analysis and understanding suppression/enhancement effects.


The BMSS Ambient Ionisation Special Interest Group (SIG) held its fifth 1-Day meeting at the University of Huddersfield on the 30th January 2019. It was a very successful meeting, enjoyed by all. A full report will be presented in the next edition of Mass Matters.

If you attended the meeting and would like to tell us about it, please contact Andy Ray e-mail:


To further our understanding of ambient ionisation techniques, this group has carried out two interlaboratory studies. The final reports can be downloaded below. If you can't see the reports below, please sign in to your BMSS account; the reports are for, and visible to BMSS members only.