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Mass spectrometry is a powerful tool for molecular structural analysis. Appropriate ionization methods exist today that allow the analysis of a large variety of samples. For complex non-volatile and fragile molecules, most spectra are now acquired using matrix- assisted laser desorption/ionization and electrospray ionization (MALDI and ESI) or related methods. These soft ionization methods produce generally closed-shell ions in positive and negative ion modes. Singly charged ions are the most abundant in MALDI for the entire mass range whereas multiply charged ions are preferentially observed in ESI when multiple sites can bear a charge.

A mass resolution above 1 000 000 and a mass accuracy well below one part-per-million (ppm) are routinely achieved today. The chemical composition of the analytes is therefore easily accessible. However, structural analysis requires further information for which MS/MS is mandatory. A shape-specific separation method such as ion mobility allows specific conformations to be characterized. Biopolymer characterization is a key requirement in many fields, from basic to applied research. Sequence and shape information are now routinely obtained thanks to significant developments in mass spectrometry technology.

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