Charge detection mass spectrometry (CDMS) is a single particle technique capable of simultaneously measuring charge and mass-to-charge ratios for individual ions or particles. The linear array CDMS design theoretically has no upper mass limit and is therefore a choice method for the analysis of high mass and heterogeneous samples, such as dust microparticles in the Martian atmosphere. This dissertation describes the development of a novel charge detection mass spectrometer made of printed circuit boards (PCB) for the analysis of dust microparticles in the Martian atmosphere. Development of this device has required investigations in analysis methods and the engineering design of both the PCB device and the vacuum chamber system used in laboratory experiments. Accurate velocity analysis is crucial in determining correct particle mass in linear array CDMS. By combining the Shockley-Ramo theorem–which allows for the calculation of instantaneous image current for a system of electrodes when a point charge passes them–and SIMION ion optics simulations effective electrode length can be determined for any given charge detector geometry and aid in charge detector engineering and design process. Applying these simulation results to experimental data yields velocity agreement for a PCB charge detector within 0.44% RSD. The novel PCB CDMS device was demonstrated for the analysis of multiple types of microparticles of varying size and charge similar to that expected of atmospheric Mars dust. This device is able to measure particle charge above 1,500 elementary charges of either polarity. Simulations show that for microparticles having a size and density close to that which is expected for Mars dust, the device is able to ideally measure the mass of particles ranging from 0.2–2.5 μm in diameter, providing broad coverage of particles too small to be observed by optical scattering and other techniques that have been previously used on Mars.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





image charge, image current, charge detection mass spectrometry, Mars dust