A high-efficiency real-time digital signal averager for time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Wang, Yinan and Xu, Hui and Li, Qingjiang and Li, Nan and Huang, Zhengxu and Zhou, Zhen and Liu, Husheng and Sun, Zhaolin and Xu, Xin and Yu, Hongqi and Liu, Haijun and Li, David D U and Wang, Xi and Dong, Xiuzhen and Gao, Wei (2013) A high-efficiency real-time digital signal averager for time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 27 (10). pp. 1155-1167. ISSN 0951-4198

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Abstract

RATIONALE Analog-to-digital converter (ADC)-based acquisition systems are widely applied in time-of-flight mass spectrometers (TOFMS) due to their ability to record the signal intensity of all ions within the same pulse. However, the acquisition system raises the requirement for data throughput, along with increasing the conversion rate and resolution of the ADC. It is therefore of considerable interest to develop a high-performance real-time acquisition system, which can relieve the limitation of data throughput. METHODS We present in this work a high-efficiency real-time digital signal averager, consisting of a signal conditioner, a data conversion module and a signal processing module. Two optimization strategies are implemented using field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to enhance the efficiency of the real-time processing. A pipeline procedure is used to reduce the time consumption of the accumulation strategy. To realize continuous data transfer, a high-efficiency transmission strategy is developed, based on a ping-pong procedure. RESULTS The digital signal averager features good responsiveness, analog bandwidth and dynamic performance. The optimal effective number of bits reaches 6.7 bits. For a 32 μs record length, the averager can realize 100% efficiency with an extraction frequency below 31.23 kHz by modifying the number of accumulation steps. In unit time, the averager yields superior signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) compared with data accumulation in a computer. CONCLUSIONS The digital signal averager is combined with a vacuum ultraviolet single-photon ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer (VUV-SPI-TOFMS). The efficiency of the real-time processing is tested by analyzing the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from ordinary printed materials. In these experiments, 22 kinds of compounds are detected, and the dynamic range exceeds 3 orders of magnitude.