A simple sketch and a weight attached to a spring are used by George Jernakoff (left) and Walter Morgan of the General Engineering Laboratory to explain the basic principle employed in a new "robot chemist." Like the bobbing weight of the spring, tiny electrically-charged particles of gases or light liquids have a natural frequency. In the new device the tiny particles, called ions, are formed by bombardment of molecules with electrons emitted from a hot filament. Radio frequency voltage "sorts" the ions according to their ration of weight to electrical charge, and those having a natural frequency equal to the frequency of the voltage applied are accelerated in a d.c magnetic field to a collector. The electrical signals from the collector make it possible to obtain the "signature of the sample gas on a chart recorder. Called the Ion Resonance Mass Spectrometer, it opens the door to automatic processing in the gas, petroleum, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Used in combination with computers and other automatic machines, it makes possible continuous control of the mixture in a stream of multi-components gases or light liquids.
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