IB Chemistry home > Syllabus 2016 > Atomic theory > The mass spectrometer

Syllabus ref: 2.1

Modern chemistry relies on instrumentation for analytical purposes, as results can be produced rapidly and more accurately than traditional 'wet' methods. One of the most important and powerful instruments is the mass spectrometer.


The mass spectrometer is used to determine the relative atomic mass of an element from its isotopic composition.

Applications and skills

Calculations involving non-integer relative atomic masses and abundance of isotopes from given data, including mass spectra.

In Chapter 1.2