Hall of Fame

Some scientists achieved fame due to the contributions they made to MS or made by using MS. At the beginning of the 20th century, the pioneers developed this method of measuring mass as their tool for the elucidation of the atomic nature of matter. Some decades later, this specialist’s tool had transformed into “the Swiss army knife” of analytical techniques – and still MS is expanding as you read.

In 1989, Hans G. Dehmelt and Wolfgang Paul received the Noble Prize for the development of the linear quadrupole mass spectrometer and the quadrupole ion trap. Both types of mass analyzers soon became widespread in use.

Electrospray ionization (ESI) as well as soft laser desorption techniques became key to the analysis of proteomes and genomes. Jointly, John B. Fenn and Koichi Tanaka were awarded with the Nobel Prize in 2002. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI), developed by Franz Hillenkamp and Michael Karas in the late 1980s, presents another milestone of MS technology.

By the way, without MS, the Noble Prize Winners of 1996, Sir Harold Kroto, Richard E. Smalley and Robert F. Curl, probably would never have discovered the fullerenes.

Noble Prizes in the Context of Mass Spectrometry

Laureate Category and year Prize motivation
Joseph John Thomson Physics 1906 In recognition of the great merits of his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases
Francis William Aston Chemistry 1922 For his discovery, by means of his mass spectrograph, of isotopes in a large number of nonradioactive elements, and for his enunciation of the whole-number rule
Wolfgang Paul and
Hans G. Dehmelt
Physics 1989 For the development of the ion trap technique
John B. Fenn with
Koichi Tanaka
Chemistry 2002 For their development of soft desorption ionization methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules