, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 104-111

Investigations of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization sample preparation by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) analyses are compared to gain insight into some of the details of sample preparation for MALDI analysis of synthetic polymers. ToF-SIMS imaging of MALDI samples shows segregation of the cationization agent from the matrix crystals. The amount of observed segregation can be controlled by the sample preparation technique. Electrospray sample deposition minimizes segregation. Comparing ToF-SIMS and MALDI mass spectra from the same samples confirms that ToF-SIMS is significantly more surface sensitive than MALDI. This comparison shows that segregation of the oligomers of a polymer sample can occur during MALDI sample preparation. Our data indicate that MALDI is not as sensitive to those species dominating the sample surface as to species better incorporated into the matrix crystals. Finally, we show that matrix-enhanced SIMS can be an effective tool to analyze synthetic polymers, although the sample preparation conditions may be different than those optimized for MALDI.