A universal relationship between optimum drift voltage and resolving power

  • Ansgar T. KirkEmail author
  • Kai Bakes
  • Stefan Zimmermann
Original Research


The drift voltage is one of the key experimental parameters of any drift tube ion mobility spectrometer. In this work, we show that a universal relationship between optimum drift voltage and the resolving power reached at this point exists, governed only by temperature and ion charge state. With these two quantities known, the measured optimum drift voltage and resolving power combination can be used to estimate the ideality of the drift conditions inside a drift tube, since any deviation from the theoretical values must be caused by non-idealities in the ions’ drift. Analyzing drift voltage sweeps from nine different ion mobility spectrometers, a continuous increase in drift tube ideality over the past is observed, reaching from less than 50% thirty years ago to 99% for a current design based on printed circuit boards. Furthermore, possible causes for the observed non-idealities are discussed.


Analytical model Drift tube Ideality Non-idealities Ion mobility spectrometry 



Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Electrical Engineering and Measurement Technology, Department of Sensors and Measurement TechnologyLeibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany

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