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A Langmuir–Taylor detector, also called surface ionization detector or hot wire detector, is a kind of ionization detector used in mass spectrometry, developed by John Taylor[1] based on the work of Irving Langmuir and K. H. Kingdon.[2]


This detector usually consists of a heated thin filament or ribbon of a metal with a high work function (typically tungsten or rhenium). Neutral atoms or molecules that strike the filament can boil off as positive ions in a process known as surface ionization, and these may be either measured as a current or detected, individually, using an electron multiplier and particle counting electronics.


This detector is mostly used with alkali atoms, having a low ionization potential, with applications in mass spectrometry and atomic clocks.


  1. ^ Taylor, John (1930). "The Reflection of Beams of the Alkali Metals from Crystals". Physical Review. 35 (4): 375–380. Bibcode:1930PhRv...35..375T. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.35.375.
  2. ^ Langmuir, Irving (1925). "Thermionic Effects Caused by Vapours of Alkali Metals". Proceedings of the Royal Society A. 107 (741): 61–79. Bibcode:1925RSPSA.107...61L. doi:10.1098/rspa.1925.0005.