Effect of different solution flow rates on analyte ion signals in nano-ESI MS, or: when does ESI turn into nano-ESI?


In nano-ESI MS, the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of mass spectra vary considerably upon the use of different spraying conditions, i.e., aperture of the spraying needle and the voltage applied. The major parameters affected by the aperture size is the liquid flow rate which determines the initial droplet size and the current emitted upon the spray process, as described by different models of the ESI process. In the present study, the effect of flow rate on ion signals was studied systematically using mixtures of compounds with different physicochemical properties (i. e., detergent/oligosaccharide and oligosaccharide/peptide). For these model systems, the functional dependence of certain analyte-ion ratios upon the flow rate can be correlated to changes in analyte partition during droplet fission prior to ion release. Analyte suppression is practically absent at minimal flow rates below 20 nL/min.

Published online April 7, 2003