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MALDI Mass Spectrometry

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry was developed in the 1980s, with prominent researcher Koichi Tanaka receiving a share of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in the development of MALDI. Along with electrospray ionization (ESI), MALDI is a soft ionization technique that allows large molecules such as proteins to be ionized with no fragmentation, allowing identification of large biomolecules by their molecular mass.

Polymer Factory's Bruker UltrafleXtreme MALDI TOF/TOF

With first commercial instruments becoming available in the 1990s, modern instruments now offer rapid analysis and are available with high resolving power and high automated sample throughput. MALDI is used across a wide range of industries and technical fields, including pharmaceutical development, clinical diagnostics and across the biological and chemical sciences.

Key MALDI applications:

Identification of microorganisms

  • MALDI is used to provide the “mass fingerprint” of a culture from patient samples. Automation and database searching makes possible the identification of microorganisms responsible for infection in hours, allowing the correct antibiotics to be given as soon as possible.

MALDI imaging

  • The rapid data collection speeds and spatial resolution of modern instruments allows tissue samples to be imaged by MALDI. Scientists can image a cross section of tissue mapping biological metabolites and biomarkers. MALDI imaging is becoming increasingly important in clinical research, biomarker discovery and development of new treatments.


  • MALDI can provide complete primary protein sequences in minutes. Along with ESI, MALDI has revolutionized proteomics and is facilitating discovery of new drugs, new insights into protein-protein interactions and biomarker discovery.

Quality control

  • MALDI offers critical advantages in the quality control of peptides, proteins, and oligonucleotides, as well as polymers and larger chemical products.


Polymer Factory has commercialized a set of unique calibration standards for MALDI MS – SpheriCal® – which offer excellent mass accuracy, time saving sample preparation and outstanding stability. With this modular technology platform, Polymer Factory is also able to produce specific SpheriCal® molecules for seamless integration with our customers’ technology as internal calibrants. Our vision is to increase the quality and efficiency of MS calibration and enable emerging MS applications to become benchmark techniques through providing enhanced calibration standards.

We are well equipped for MALDI analysis and are currently operating a Bruker UltrafleXtreme MALDI TOF/TOF (see image above), which features high mass resolution across broad mass ranges. This instrument is used in nearly every stage of our development and production work, in development of new SpheriCal® products and in characterization and quality control of our dendrons and dendrimers.


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