Problem: Use the mass spectrum of lead to estimate the atomic mass of lead.

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We are being asked to estimate the atomic mass of lead using the mass spectrum.

Recall: Mass Spectrometry allows you to determine the molecular weight of an unknown compound through its vaporization and ionization. 


We are given the mass spectrum of lead with percent intensity on the vertical axis and mass (amu) on the horizontal axis.

The spectrum includes the percent intensities of four isotopes of lead:

  • Pb-204 with a peak intensity of about 5.0%
  • Pb-206 with a peak intensity of about 45%
  • Pb-207 with a peak intensity of about 40%
  • Pb-208 with a peak intensity of about 100%
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Problem Details

Use the mass spectrum of lead to estimate the atomic mass of lead.

Mass spectrum of lead with percent intensity on the vertical axis and mass (amu) on the horizontal axis. The spectrum includes the percent intensities of four isotopes of lead: Pb-204 with a peak intensity of about 5.0%; Pb-206 with a peak intensity of about 45%; Pb-207 with a peak intensity of about 40%; and Pb-208 with a peak intensity of 100%.

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What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Mass Spectrometry concept. If you need more Mass Spectrometry practice, you can also practice Mass Spectrometry practice problems.

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Weiss' class at OREGONSTATE.