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Ion Funnel and Related Technology for Improved Sensitivity in Mass Spectrometry

Awards Won:
FLC Award - 2004
R&D 100 Award - 1999

Battelle Number(s): 11340, 12726, 13183, 13865,14736, 14793, 30612
Patent(s) Issued
Available for licensing in all fields

Agilent Technologies taps into world-leading scientists at PNNL
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Most of the available ions in a sample are lost before the ions reach the detector of a mass spectrometer. Much of these losses occur in the interface region between the ion source and the entrance to the high vacuum region of the instrument.

The ion funnel has been shown to reduce these ion losses and improve resultant sensitivity of a mass spectrometer instrument by an average of 6 to 10-fold. Use of related patented technologies in conjunction with the ion funnel, such as the patented jet disturber, has shown to produce significant additional increases in sensitivity.

The ion funnel utilizes a stacked radio frequency (RF) ring electrode arrangement with a funnel shape to focus ions in the presence of a neutral gas. This provides the basis for much higher ion currents for mass spectrometers and other devices that measure ions produced by ion sources having pressures that are too high for effective focusing by magnetic or electric fields.

The base ion funnel technology (patent 6,107,628) and related technologies covered by patents 6,583,408, 6,831,274, and 7,514,676 are available for non-exclusive license. Related technologies covered by patents 6,979,816 and 7,351,964 are available for either exclusive or non-exclusive licensing.


  • Increased amount of useful signal transmitted to the mass spectrometer and measured at the detector via Rf focusing (base ion funnel); dispersion of the gas molecules within the focusing region (jet disrupter); multiple electrospray sources matched to multiple capillary inlets that cause the sum of the ion signal transmission to be greater than the sum of the individual sources and inlets; a means to simultaneously transmit ions from multiple sources through separate ion funnel channels (multisource ion funnel); and a means to filter low mass ions in order to reduce background noise.

  • Updated versions have substantially reduced fabrication costs and lighter weights, and are capable of operating at substantially higher pressures, which improves the technology’s applicability to small, portable mass spectrometry instruments.

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