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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2005 Apr;16(4):437-40.

An in situ silver cationization method for hydrocarbon mass spectrometry.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93117-9510, USA.


We have developed a novel cationization method for the analysis of long-chain hydrocarbons via UV laser desorption mass spectrometry. In this technique we electrospray a thin coating of AgNO3 over a sample and perform UV laser desorption to produce Ag+ cationization of sample molecules. Use of this technique in our microscope/TOF-MS allows us to determine the spatial distribution of the species we detect in the sample. We demonstrate 8-mu spatial resolution, and submicron resolution is possible in principle. In mixed samples containing aromatic and aliphatic compounds, the aromatic compounds ionize directly and do not form adducts, and thus give single peaks as opposed to doublets from silver cations. This enables distinction between aromatic and aliphatic compounds that are in the same sample.

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