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Underwater Mass Spectrometer Successfully Completes Deep Sea Trials

Deep-sea mass spectrometer in the sea.
The deep-sea mass spectrometer in experiment. Credit: Han Wang
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A research team led by Prof. CHEN Chilai from Institute of Intelligent machines, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), developed the deep-sea mass spectrometer. Recently, it successfully completed multiple sea trials in a specific area of deep sea.

The research results were published in Chinese Journal of Analytical Chemistry.

The extreme environments of the deep sea have shaped unique biological processes and harbor significant mineral resources, making their detection a frontier issue in international Earth science research. In-situ detection technology in the deep sea allows for the continuous acquisition of information regarding the components, concentrations, and variations of deep-sea samples in both temporal and spatial dimensions. Therefore, it is increasingly being applied in research on extreme deep-sea environments.

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During the research, the deep-sea mass spectrometer operated continuously and reliably for over 8 hours under simulated water depths of -5800 meters. It achieved long-term (25.8 hours) in-situ detection of dissolved gases in the cold seep region of the deep sea and online detection of dissolved gases from the sea surface to the seabed (-1388m to 0m). This allowed the researchers to obtain key scientific data such as the temporal variation curve of small molecular dissolved gas concentration and the vertical concentration distribution profile in the deep-sea seabed.

This technology is not only applicable to deep-sea exploration but also to the acquisition of dissolved gas information in inland rivers, lakes, and near-shore waters. Relevant research in this area is also underway.

"We have been committed to the research of key technologies and applications of mass spectrometry," said Prof. CHEN. "the development of this deep-sea mass spectrometer paves the way for investigation into the origin and early evolution of life, and research on global climate change."

Reference: Wang H, Shao L, Yang C, et al. Development and application of an underwater mass spectrometer for in situ detection of deep-sea dissolved gases. Chinese J Anal Chem. 2023;51(9):100299. doi: 10.1016/j.cjac.2023.100299

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