, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 176-182

AP and vacuum MALDI on a QqLIT instrument

Abstract

This article presents a comparative study of the performance, operational, and instrumental characteristics of AP and vacuum MALDI for the analysis of peptides and protein digests. Spectra generated with the two ion sources were surprisingly similar, both qualitatively and quantitatively, with vacuum MALDI generating ion count rates that were approximately a factor of 2 greater than those generated with AP MALDI on this system. Even though the peptide signals were 2X greater with vacuum MALDI, the background intensities also increased by a similar amount, leading to approximately equivalent signal/background ratios for digests and peptide mixtures. The results suggest that when AP MALDI conditions are properly optimized, the sensitivity can approach that of vacuum MALDI. However, AP MALDI performance is critically affected by source gas flows, potentials, and temperature, making it operationally more complex. In addition, evidence is provided for thermal degradation of samples stored on a target plate within a heated AP MALDI ion source. An improved interface for atmosphere to vacuum ion transfer substantially improved these characteristics.

Published online December 9, 2004