Fast Mass Microscopy: Mass Spectrometry Imaging of a Gigapixel Image in 34 Minutes

Aljoscha Körber, Joel D Keelor, Britt S R Claes, Ron M A Heeren*, Ian G M Anthony

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) maps the spatial distributions of chemicals on surfaces. MSI requires improvements in throughput and spatial resolution, and often one is compromised for the other. In microprobe-mode MSI, improvements in spatial resolution increase the imaging time quadratically, thus limiting the use of high spatial resolution MSI for large areas or sample cohorts and time-sensitive measurements. Here, we bypass this quadratic relationship by combining a Timepix3 detector with a continuously sampling secondary ion mass spectrometry mass microscope. By reconstructing the data into large-field mass images, this new method, fast mass microscopy, enables orders of magnitude higher throughput than conventional MSI albeit yet at lower mass resolution. We acquired submicron, gigapixel images of fingerprints and rat tissue at acquisition speeds of 600,000 and 15,500 pixels s-1, respectively. For the first image, a comparable microprobe-mode measurement would take more than 2 months, whereas our approach took 33.3 min.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14652-14658
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number42
Early online date12 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2022


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