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Anal Chem. 2006 Dec 15;78(24):8549-55.

Droplet dynamics and ionization mechanisms in desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.

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Chemistry Department, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


A droplet pickup and other mechanisms have been suggested for the ionization of biomolecules like peptides and proteins by desorption electrospray ionization. To verify this hypothesis phase Doppler particle analysis was used to study the sizes and velocities of droplets involved in DESI. It was found that impacting droplets typically have velocities of 120 m/s and average diameters of 2-4 microm. Small differences in sprayer construction influence the operating conditions at which droplets of these dimensions are produced. Under these conditions, the kinetic energy per impacting water molecule is less than 0.6 meV and sputtering through momentum transfer during collisions or ionization by other electronic processes is unlikely. Droplets arrive at the surface with velocities well below the speed of sound in common materials, thereby excluding the possibility of ionization by shockwave formation. Some droplets appear to roll along the surface, increasing contact time and presumably the amount of material that is taken up into droplets during conditions typical of the DESI experiment.


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