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Anal Chem. 2011 Jun 1;83(11):3981-5. doi: 10.1021/ac200556z. Epub 2011 May 9.

Solvent assisted inlet ionization: an ultrasensitive new liquid introduction ionization method for mass spectrometry.


A new inlet ionization method requiring no voltage or laser, and using water, methanol, or water/organic solvent mixtures, is shown to produce mass spectra similar to those obtained with electrospray ionization (ESI) for small molecules, peptides, and proteins, at least as large as carbonic anhydrase, with sensitivity that surpasses ESI. With the use of wide mass range acquisitions at 100,000 mass resolution on an Orbitrap Exactive, detection limits below parts per trillion are obtained for small molecules such as arginine, ciprofloxacin, and acetaminophen. Low attomoles of bovine insulin consumed produced a multiply charged mass spectrum. Ions are generated, even using pure water as solvent, within the heated inlet tube linking atmospheric pressure with the first vacuum stage of the Orbitrap Exactive. The extremely high sensitivity observed at this early stage of solvent assisted inlet ionization (SAII) development suggests that inlet ionization may surpass nanoelectrospray in sensitivity but without the need for extremely low solvent flows.


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