The aim of the project implemented for the European Space Agency is to build a mass spectrometer in MEMS technology. Such an instrument should be small and light to reduce the cost of sending it into space. At the same time, its operating parameters should be comparable to classical instruments. In addition, it should be characterized by increased resistance to temperature and shocks and work in a wide range of pressures.

Meeting these requirements was an extremely difficult and never completed task in a micro scale. The potential usefulness of such an instrument is very wide: from studying the atmosphere of planets, moons, space stations, but also in various applications on Earth (petrochemical, food industry, health care).

The device developed by our group includes several MEMS modules: a glow ion source with ion optics, a quadrupole mass analyzer (QMA) and an ion detector. The size of the measuring head is 67×20.4×17 mm3, and its weight is 50 g.

t is equipped with a dedicated electronic system. The instrument can operate in medium and high vacuum (10-2 – 10-6 hPa) and is able to detect gases with masses in the range of 1 to 350 units. The confirmed resolution is 2%, which means that compounds differing by 1 mass unit can be separated and distinguished. Thanks to some modifications, it is possible to extend the range of its operation even to atmospheric pressure, and use it to measure the spectra of not only gases, but also liquid or solid samples.