Just DART It

by May 13, 2019Analytical

DART Technology

A new ionization for rapid, non-contact surface sampling of compounds

What is DART®?

DART® stands for Direct Analysis in Real Time. It is a new ionization for rapid, non-contact surface sampling of compounds. Operating at ambient pressure with the sample at ground potential, the source enables near instantaneous determination of sample composition by using mass spectrometry. Electronic or vibronic excited-state species generated in the source interact with reagent molecules and polar or non-polar analyte present near the inlet of the mass spectrometer.

What are the Uses of DART®?

Analysis of hundreds of chemicals, including pharmaceuticals, their metabolites, peptides, oligosaccharides, synthetic organic molecules, organometallics, explosives and toxins has shown that the DART® is a versatile method for rapid detection of analytes. These chemicals have been detected on surfaces including concrete, asphalt, human skin, currency, paper stock, vegetables, fruit, and even clothing. For specific examples see the applications page.

How DART® Works

An electrical discharge creates a plasma as inert gas flows through the DART® chamber. The plasma contains ions, electrons, and excited neutral atoms and molecules. Electrostatic lenses in the DART® remove ions and electrons, leaving only long-lived electronically or vibronically excited atoms and molecules (metasables). A grid at the exit of the DART® source prevents ion-electron recombination and acts as an electron source for negative-ion formation. A heater coil increases the temperature of the gas as it travels towards the exit orifice of the source. An insulator cap ensures that no exposure to high voltage occurs outside the plasma chamber. The heated gas containing neutral but highly energetic atoms and molecules exits the source heading towards the inlet of the atmospheric pressure ionization mass spectrometer.

The ions produced in the vapor phases between the DART® insulator cap and mass spectrometer inlet are formed by interaction of the electronic excited-state species of helium or neon or vibronic excited-state species of nitrogen with the sample. The heated gas also assists in desorption of molecules on the surface of materials placed along the path between the cap and inlet.

Consumables for speedy sampling

Our easy-to-use consumables facilitate reliable sample positioning. DIP-its, OpenSpot and QuickStrip cards support ionization of liquids and solids in seconds per sample.


Analysis of flat and multi-dimension surfaces

DART facilitates thermal desorption using different temperature gas. The low pressure heated gas bathes the sample in ionizing gas making surface analysis possible with minimal damage to the objects.


Our classic ambient ionization source. Just position your sample in the heated gas stream to effect thermal desorption.


The OS Model

The OS module permits more routine analysis by aligning sample with ionizing gas and instrument inlet.


Step up to SVP to increase sample throughput and enchance capability for method development


utomated solid and liquid sample presentation system. Utilize our QuickStrip® consumables for thermal profiling and comparative sample analysis.


ur multi-dimensional sample presentation systems are ideal for use with robotic sample deposition systems to permit analysis of hundreds of samples per hour




everage our solid phase extraction SPE-it® technology to remove interfering matrix components. Use direct
analysis of the tips to identify samples of interest. Save time and reduce cost by eliminating routine time consuming GC and LC separations.

Available on GSA through Government Scientific Source

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