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Anal Chem. 1995 Jul 1;67(13):1950-4.

High-resolution matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization in a linear time-of-flight mass spectrometer.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


A time-lag focusing method is developed for the improvement of mass resolution in a linear time-of-flight mass spectrometer for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI). In this technique, the ions generated by the MALDI process are extracted by a pulsed voltage. A short time delay (280 ns) is inserted in between the laser desorption/ionization event and the ion extraction. The region between the repeller and extraction grid is field-free during the delay. The time-lag extraction allows the ions generated in the region between the repeller and the extraction grid to separate according to their velocity (energy). Application, to the repeller, of the appropriate pulse voltage provides the energy correction necessary to simultaneously detect all ions of the same mass/charge regardless of their initial energy, resulting in improved mass resolution. It is demonstrated that mass resolution in the range of 3000-6000 fwhm can be obtained. With this mass resolution, isotopically resolved mass spectra are observed for peptides with masses up to 3000 Da. For proteins, such as bovine insulin, cytochrome c, and apomyoglobin, resolution in the range of 800-1000 fwhm is observed with a mass measurement accuracy better than 0.01%.

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