Date: 22 Nov 2011

Parameters contributing to efficient ion generation in aerosol MALDI mass spectrometry


The Bioaerosol Mass Spectrometry (BAMS) system was developed for the real-time detection and identification of biological aerosols using laser desorption ionization. Greater differentiation of particle types is desired; consequently MALDI techniques are being investigated. The small sample size (∼1 μm3), lack of substrate, and ability to simultaneously monitor both positive and negative ions provide a unique opportunity to gain new insight into the MALDI process. Several parameters known to influence MALDI molecular ion yield and formation are investigated here in the single particle phase. A comparative study of five matrices (2,6-dihydroxyacetophenone, 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid, α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid, ferulic acid, and sinapinic acid) with a single analyte (angiotensin I) is presented and reveals effects of matrix selection, matrix-to-analyte molar ratio, and aerosol particle diameter. The strongest analyte ion signal is found at a matrix-to-analyte molar ratio of 100:1. At this ratio, the matrices yielding the least and greatest analyte molecular ion formation are ferulic acid and α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid, respectively. Additionally, a significant positive correlation is found between aerodynamic particle diameter and analyte molecular ion yield for all matrices. SEM imaging of select aerosol particle types reveals interesting surface morphology and structure.