Perhaps ion mobility spectrometry's greatest strength is the speed at which separations occur—typically on the order of tens of milliseconds. This feature combined with its ease of use, relatively high sensitivity, and highly compact design have allowed IMS as a commercial product to be used as a routine tool for the field detection of explosives, drugs, and chemical weapons.
In the pharmaceutical industry IMS is used in cleaning validations, demonstrating that reaction vessels are sufficiently clean to proceed with the next batch of pharmaceutical product. IMS is much faster and more accurate than HPLC and total organic carbon methods previously used. IMS is also used for analyzing the composition of drugs produced, thereby finding a place in quality assurance and control.
As a research tool ion mobility is becoming more widely used in the analysis of biological materials, specifically, proteomics and metabolomics.
Outside of laboratory purposes, IMS has found great usage as a detection tool for hazardous substances.