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Inorganic Mass Spectrometry. Principles and Applications. By JohannaSabine Becker

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Inorganic Mass Spectrometry
Principles and
Applications. By
Johanna Sabine
Becker. John Wiley &
Sons, Chichester
2007. 496 pp.,
E 159.00.—ISBN
The mass spectrometer is undoubtedly
the most versatile and sensitive analytical instrument in natural science.
Nowadays, mass spectrometry is a primary research tool in fields as widely
diverse as organic chemistry, elemental
analysis, proteomics, atomic physics,
environmental science, and geochemistry. Whereas there are fine textbooks for
the use of mass spectrometry in several
of these fields, up to now there has been
no comprehensive and up-to-date textbook on inorganic mass spectrometry.
Although there are books (mostly
edited collections) and reviews covering
various aspects of inorganic mass spectrometry, in particular on inductively
coupled plasma mass spectrometry
(ICP-MS), an up-to-date fully-fledged
textbook dealing with all aspects of
inorganic mass spectrometry, from the
fundamentals to the applications,
including all practical methods of the
vast arsenal that is available, has been
lacking. The book by Johanna Sabine
Becker has the ambition to fill that void
by bringing together relevant knowledge in a critical and scholarly fashion.
The structure of the book by Dr.
Becker is conventional, in the sense that
separate chapters on the principles of
the instrument are presented and disAngew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 4259
cussed at length before the applied
aspects are introduced. An enjoyable
introductory chapter describes the historical development of mass spectrometry from its beginning, almost a hundred years ago, up to the present. That is
followed by three chapters covering the
fundamental principles of the generation, separation, and detection of ions.
In Chapter 5 the author describes all the
instrumentation units used in inorganic
mass spectrometry in a clever way, with
the benefit of using the basic concepts
introduced in the preceding chapters.
Chapter 6, despite the title “Analytical and practical considerations”, is also
essentially fundamental in its nature, as
it describes and discusses at length some
important aspects of analytical chemistry in general, and mass spectrometry
for elemental analysis in particular. This
chapter provides a logical bridge
between the fundamental and the application parts of the book, and is essential
to the book.s purpose. I do not remember having seen a chapter of this kind in
similar books, so this clever twist represents a valuable innovation. Chapter 7 is
mainly devoted to sample collection,
preparation, and introduction. The last
part of this chapter and the whole of
Chapter 8 deal with the determination
of isotope ratios.
Chapter 9, on applications, comprises more than 40 % of the total
number of pages. It contains subchapters on trace analysis, including materials and surface science, environmental
science, biology and medicine, food
analysis, geology, space science, isotopic
dating, and forensics.
The author has succeeded well in her
stated mission of providing students and
specialists with a means to obtain basic
knowledge of the many facets of this
important field. Naturally, ICP-MS is a
central topic of the book, but all aspects
of inorganic mass spectrometry, ranging
from spark-source MS to electrospray
ionization, are treated. All relevant
types of mass analyzers are described,
and all key methodological issues—for
example, speciation analysis, accuracy
and precision, interferences, and validation—are treated in great detail, while at
the same time keeping a good overview.
The book is well written, with a clear
didactic purpose. The use of instructive
illustrations, many in color and some in
3D, helps the reader to understand
working principles and important
The choice of examples is relevant
and enlightening, but I find the list of
references to be strongly biased in favor
of the author.s own work. This is not
unusual in textbooks, but should be
avoided. Having said so, I realize that
any author, like any footballer, is at his
or her best when playing on home
ground. Dr. Becker, an active and distinguished researcher in the field for
more than three decades, has benefited
greatly from her own experience in
preparing this book. There are some
misprints and inaccuracies, probably
unavoidable in a first edition, but not
to an irritating extent. The chapter on
laser ablation and laser ionization techniques could have been improved by a
short introduction on lasers and the
different phenomena described and
terms used. Likewise, the section on
electrospray ionization could have been
extended, and more could have been
written about accelerator mass spectrometry (Chapter 5, Section 9).
This book fits very well into the
curriculum for graduate courses in inorganic analysis and inorganic mass spectrometry. It will also serve as an easy-touse and extremely valuable source of
information for all practitioners in the
broad field of mass spectrometry. It is a
pleasure to recommend this up-to-date
and thorough book.
Einar Uggerud
Department of Chemistry
University of Oslo (Norway)
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200785585
/ 2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
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mass, inorganic, becke, johannasabine, application, spectrometry, principles
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