When one thinks of mass spectral libraries — well, let’s be honest here, the very idea of mass spectral libraries will never cross most people’s minds, even most scientists’. But that’s true for most of the seemingly esoteric things that many of us at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have devoted our careers to. And though many of us have often struggled to explain the nature of our work to friends and loved ones (and more often than not failed to elicit excitement), the importance of NIST’s work cannot be overstated. This is very much true for what we call the NIST Standard Reference Database 1A, more commonly known as the NIST Mass Spectral Library.
This year marks the eighth release of the library, which includes over 2 million mass spectra measured for over 350,000 chemical compounds.