Higher order parametric excitation modes for spaceborne quadrupole mass spectrometers

Gershman, D. J.; Block, B. P.; Rubin, Martin; Benna, M.; Mahaffy, P. R.; Zurbuchen, T. H. (2011). Higher order parametric excitation modes for spaceborne quadrupole mass spectrometers. Review of scientific instruments, 82(12), p. 125109. American Institute of Physics 10.1063/1.3669781

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This paper describes a technique to significantly improve upon the mass peak shape and mass resolution of spaceborne quadrupolemass spectrometers (QMSs) through higher order auxiliary excitation of the quadrupole field. Using a novel multiresonant tank circuit, additional frequency components can be used to drive modulating voltages on the quadrupole rods in a practical manner, suitable for both improved commercial applications and spaceflight instruments. Auxiliary excitation at frequencies near twice that of the fundamental quadrupole RF frequency provides the advantages of previously studied parametric excitation techniques, but with the added benefit of increased sensed excitation amplitude dynamic range and the ability to operate voltage scan lines through the center of upper stability islands. Using a field programmable gate array, the amplitudes and frequencies of all QMS signals are digitally generated and managed, providing a robust and stable voltage control system. These techniques are experimentally verified through an interface with a commercial Pfeiffer QMG422 quadrupole rod system. When operating through the center of a stability island formed from higher order auxiliary excitation, approximately 50% and 400% improvements in 1% mass resolution and peak stability were measured, respectively, when compared with traditional QMS operation. Although tested with a circular rod system, the presented techniques have the potential to improve the performance of both circular and hyperbolic rod geometry QMS sensors.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Rubin, Martin


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




American Institute of Physics




Martin Rubin

Date Deposited:

04 May 2016 15:40

Last Modified:

04 May 2016 15:40

Publisher DOI:






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