AerOrbi - Aerosol soft photo ionisation Orbitrap mass spectrometry


Aerosol characterisation is essential for environmental health and climate research and thus represents an attractive market for analytical instrumentation. The new device would fill a significant gap in currently available instrumentation for on-site aerosol characterisation. While the Aethalometer can determine soot content (relevant for climate), the photoionisation high-resolution mass spectrometer gives detailed information on the molecular level (critical for environmental surveillance).

Aim of the project

The AerOrbi project aims to develop a new hyphenated instrument for online aerosol particulate matter characterisation combining analysis of soot content and single-particle characterisation of the chemical composition by photo ionisation Orbitrap high-resolution mass spectrometry. The final product is a field suitable aerosol characterisation device for a description of spectroscopic properties and composition, which can detect toxic substances, emission sources and relevant environmental parameters.

Expected results and impact

There is a growing interest in the investigation of aerosols regarding environmental health and climate aspects. The aim of the AerOrbi project is the development of a functional prototype of an innovative transportable instrument for aerosol specification, which is capable of gas-phase measurements (e.g. from aerosol thermal desorption) and single-particle analysis. High-performance mass spectrometry results in unambiguous chemical information. Currently, there is no instrument commercially available on the market addressing the molecular level of carbonaceous aerosols, which can be used in field experiments. As non-destructive (soft) ionisation technique, laser-based photoionisation will be used to analyse the molecular composition of the aerosols. A high-resolution Orbitrap mass analyser will be used which requires enhanced data processing but delivers high mass resolving power and mass accuracy. The high resolving power enables differentiation of complex mixtures, and the high mass accuracy allows unambiguous peak assignment. To sum up, the main result of the project will be a new type of aerosol analyser incorporating different technologies and enabling unique features, to date not available on the market.


Co-funded by EUREKA member
countries and the European Union
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.