Superconducting Mass Spectrometry and Molecule Analysis

Two industrial and three academic research teams represent a highly interdisciplinary consortium of experts from 

  • mass spectrometry
  • superconductor technology
  • integrated electronic design and engineering
  • synthetic chemistry
  • molecular beam physics and quantum optics

They work together towards their joint goal of advancing new molecular beam methods for

  • mass spectrometry and molecule analysis
  • optical spectroscopy on the few-photon level
  • quantum interferometry 

in a complexity domain that has remained unexplored so far.

University of Vienna ( UNIVIE )

PI: Univ. Prof. Dr. Markus Arndt      
Co-PI: Dr. Philipp Geyer

UNIVIE is the coordinating and integrating node of SuperMaMa. We will develop the biomolecular beam methods and a cryogenic interface for the superconducting nanowire detector for charged biopolymers and perform the real-world tests of all components developed by all groups in the integrated mass spectrometer machine. UNIVIE has been involved in molecular quantum optics, advanced neutral beam methods and specialized mass spectrometry for the last twenty years. In collaboration with UNIBAS, UNIVIE was able to demonstrate charge reduction and neutralization using photocleavage on small peptides. We are now teaming up to tackle deterministic charge reduction in time and space of complex proteins. All experiments are developed for mass spectrometry, with novel high-mass components, provided by MSVISION. UNIVIE was able to demonstrate the detection of neutral molecules using a superconducting nanowire detector in 2009 and now joins forces with SQ Delft and EPFL Lausanne to deliver a well-characterized, sensitive, reliable superconducting multi-pixel camera for biopolymers in high vacuum.

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( EPFL )

PI: Prof. Dr. Edoardo Charbon      
Co-PI: Dr. Claudiu Bruschini

EPFL will design, fabricate and test cryogenic circuits that interface with the nanowire detector array, since EPFL’s Advanced Quantum Architecture (AQUA) laboratory’s research mission is to model and develop hardware/software systems based on photonic/electronic quantum devices, using standard CMOS processes operated at cryogenic and room temperatures, including high-speed and time-resolved 2D/3D optical sensing as well as their applications (medical, security, ranging), pushing the limits of CMOS technology, imaging architecture, and applications. The core competencies are VLSI design, CMOS processing and modelling, microelectronics & computer engineering. AQUA has coordinated the MEGAFRAME FP6 FET Open project, followed by the SPADnet FP7 ICT project. AQUA is currently involved in the H2020 project MOS-QUITO, where it is responsible for the design of cryo-CMOS components used in the classical control of solid-state spin qubits. AQUA also collaborates with IdQuantique (Geneva, Switzerland), the world’s leading producer of quantum random number generators, on the design of novel fast quantum random number generators.

Single Quantum, Delft ( SQ )

PI: Dr. Mario Castaneda

SQ is the market leader in the emerging field of superconducting single photon detectors. The company was created in 2012 as a spin-off of Delft University of Technology. SQ designs, builds and commercializes single-photon detection systems based on superconducting nanowires. Since its start, the company has built a track record in entrepreneurship, high quality manufacture, innovation and engineering. SQ photon detection systems have already been installed in universities, research institutes and industrial research labs all around the globe. They had continuously growing turnover that more than doubled every year since 2013. SQ is growing its team with highly specialized employees, currently 18 FTE, and investments in technical equipment and production facilities. SQ has been awarded a SME instrument phase 2 grant from the European Commission and is participating in the EU Quantum Flagship. In SuperMaMa, Single Quantum is responsible for the design and fabrication of superconducting nanowire detectors and their optimization towards massive particles.

University of Basel ( UNIBAS )

PI: Univ. Prof. Dr. Marcel Mayor 
Co-PI: Dr. Valentin Köhler

UNIBAS will develop novel photocleavable tags for gas phase charge manipulation of biomolecules with blue and green laser light, and modify biomolecules with the developed tags and characterization of the constructs by independent means. UNIBAS will optimize the photochemical handles together with the consortium partners in an iterative fashion. The results of the cleavage experiments will inform the next round of molecular design and vice versa. The nano-chemistry group is known for tailor-made molecules and materials for physical experiments. Together with the consortium partners, numerous molecular particles were already developed for interference experiments. The molecular design was either focused on combining large masses with promising sublimation features or on novel beam-forming and/or detection features. The molecular particles developed hold the current mass and complexity world record in quantum interferometry. Recent successful targets for gas phase experiments include large functionalized peptide structures and modified biomolecules such as insulin.


PI: Ing. Jan Commandeur 

MSVISION will design, build and test a charge reduction device, a 100kDa quadrupole mass filter, a neutrals filter, and a quadrupolar bender, as well as assist in designing the experimental vacuum chamber. In close cooperation with the group of Prof. Dr. Albert Heck at Utrecht University, hardware and software adaptations were developed and implemented for improved ion transmission and desolvation of high mass ions sprayed under native conditions. This has lead to the sales of ~30 modified mass spectrometers throughout Europe, which are currently maintained by MS Vision. Several development projects are now running at MS Vision and partners to further improve performance of these systems, in terms of selectivity, sensitivity and resolution.