Liquid Chromatography

LC-MS Calibration vs. Tuning

In this technical article you will learn about the two procedures that are used to make sure that an HPLC equipped with a mass spectral detector (MS) is reporting proper mass information and that the system is properly set to detect the analyte(s) of interest.

These are calibration and tuning – two processes that are sometimes confused. Calibration is the process used to ensure mass accuracy; tuning is used to make sure that the instrument is working well for a particular sample. Most commonly for quantitative analysis, a single- (LC-MS) or triple- (LC-MS/MS) quadrupole MS detector is used, although the principles discussed here also hold for other LC-MS detectors. Calibration gives us confidence that when the detector reports a mass (or more properly mass-to-charge ratio, m/z ) for a compound, we can be sure that the reported value is correct. This means that we need to use a well-defined standard for the procedure. Tuning is a much more common process than calibration. The essence of tuning is that we want the instrument to give the maximum signal possible for our analyte. To do this, we use the same instrumental setup as for calibration but with a solution of our analyte or internal standard instead of the calibrant.

By reading the full article you will find out more about these two processes and how calibration ensures that the instrument is reporting accurate masses, whereas tuning is used to make sure that adequate signal intensity is obtained for specific analytes.

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