Bending Magnet


Accession Number:

Instrument Name: Bending Magnet


The item consists of two curved steel magnets welded to T-shaped metal support brackets, with a gap between them. The brackets have four separate metal components, held together by screws. The components exhibit different levels of corrosion, and are likely different alloys. One component of the support bracket is coated with black paint.

Primary Materials: Steel/Iron

Markings: None

Dimensions (cm):

Length = 28 cm, Height = 6 cm, Width = 12 cm


The instrument was used to bend beams of ions, which were contained in a vacuum vessel positioned in the gap between the magnets. The degree to which the beams bent corresponded to the mass of the ions contained in them, and a detector was used to sort out different isotopes accordingly. The magnet was a part of a mass spectrometer.


The instrument is in good condition, but there is minor surface corrosion over the entire body. The different metal components exhibit different levels of corrosion; the magnets are most significantly corroded.


The instrument was most likely part of a mass spectrometer used by the University of Toronto Physics Department used prior to the Department’s very large “Isotrace” spectrometer. The magnet would likely have been the only one used in the spectrometer.

Donated to UTSIC: Yes

Historical Notes:

Ted Litherland, retired Professor at the University of Toronto, has more information about the history of mass spectrometry at the Department of Physics.