The Geonium Chip: mass spectrometry technology


Mass spectrometer devices currently available on the market are expensive and large machines. The devices, which measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions, use penning trap technology, with unbeaten performance in high precision measurements of atomic properties.

Penning trap technology has been and continues to be very successful in several branches of Physics and Chemistry. However, conventional Penning traps are prohibitively expensive and remain accessible to only a few, selected academic research labs.

New core analytical technology in mass spectrometry from the University of Sussex offers similar technical capability, but with a significant reduction in cost and footprint compared to existing products.


The Geonium Chip is an ion trap device which can capture charged particles and determine their composition, mass and weight. It consists of two chips: a ‘magnetic chip’ and an ‘electrostatic chip’. The Geonium Chip dramatically simplifies the footprint of Penning traps, reducing costs while maintaining their excellent performance, making them affordable and available to a much wider audience beyond academic research labs. This is achieved by removing the requirement for a large and expensive superconducting magnet, which is replaced by a Geonium Chip.

It can operate as a Fourier Transform-Ion Cyclotron Resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometer. It can also be used as a source and detector of microwave quantum radiation, with potential applications in quantum microwave imaging, microscopy and quantum radar.

Magnetic field side of a Geonium Chip

The magnetic field side of a Geonium Chip.


Potential applications

Applications for the technology range from ultra-high precision mass spectrometry and the measurement of fundamental constants to novel, emerging quantum technologies, particularly quantum microwave microscopy and quantum radar.

The Geonium Chip technology could be used by the pharmaceutical industry for small molecule analysis and molecular imaging. Defence and Security industries could also use the technology for the identification of counterfeit drugs and chemicals, and laboratories could use it to analyse environmental and food samples.

IP status

The technology is protected by granted patents in UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, USA, China, Japan and India.

You might also be interested in: