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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 21 (2016) pp 285-291

Text Analysis by Tandem ASCII Mass Spectrometry: A Teaching Tool

Matthew J. Brune, Warren R. Korn, and Douglas F. Stickle*

Department of Pathology, Jefferson University Hospitals, 117 S. 11th St, Pavilion 401, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA,
Received September 15, 2016. Accepted October 21, 2016.

Published: 18 November 2016

Abstract. As a means of introduction to the principles of operation of a tandem mass spectrometer, we developed a Python program for text analysis by “tandem ASCII mass spectrometry (TAMS),” where ASCII is the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Treating words as linear molecules from among 52 ASCII elements (Aa-Zz) having atomic weights of their corresponding ASCII codes, we use simple rules of “ASCII chemistry” for molecular ionization and fragmentation, and show how individual molecules may be quantified (counted) from within diverse matrices (viz., various texts from literature) using the principles of tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). The advantage of this chemistry analogy approach is simply that, whereas availability of MS/MS for hands-on experience is likely to be very limited at the introductory chemistry course level, Python and the TAMS program are freely available for demonstration or experimentation using any desired input text.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; Analytical Chemistry; Mass Spectrometry; Quantitative Analysis; Computer-Based Learning; Simulation

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (154 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

The supporting materials include the following: the TAMS program, and instructions on TAMS program installation and use. These materials are available online. (363 KB)

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