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Anal Chem. 2007 Sep 1;79(17):6862-7. Epub 2007 Jul 21.

Automated MALDI matrix deposition method with inkjet printing for imaging mass spectrometry.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


Careful matrix deposition on tissue samples for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) is critical for producing reproducible analyte ion signals. Traditional methods for matrix deposition are often considered an art rather than a science, with significant sample-to-sample variability. Here we report an automated method for matrix deposition, employing a desktop inkjet printer (<$200) with 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution and a six-channel piezoelectric head that delivers 3 pL/drop. The inkjet printer tray, designed to hold CDs and DVDs, was modified to hold microscope slides. Empty ink cartridges were filled with MALDI matrix solutions, including DHB in methanol/water (70:30) at concentrations up to 40 mg/mL. Various samples (including rat brain tissue sections and standards of small drug molecules) were prepared using three deposition methods (electrospray, airbrush, inkjet). A linear ion trap equipped with an intermediate-pressure MALDI source was used for analyses. Optical microscopic examination showed that matrix crystals were formed evenly across the sample. There was minimal background signal after storing the matrix in the cartridges over a 6-month period. Overall, the mass spectral images gathered from inkjet-printed tissue specimens were of better quality and more reproducible than from specimens prepared by the electrospray and airbrush methods.

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