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.

Published online November 23, 2007