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Secondary-ion emission of amino acids


Secondary-ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) is a hydrogen, isotope and compound sensitive analytical technique of extremely high absolute sensitivity. Continuing earlier measurements for carboxylic acids, adsorbed alcohols etc., we have carried out a systematical investigation of secondary-ion emission from metal-supported amino acids, containing various functional groups (e.g., alanine, phenylalanine, cysteine, arginine). In order to avoid damage effects we applied extremely small primary-ion current densities in the 10−9 A·cm−2 range.

The main results of our investigations can be summarized as follows:

  • - All investigated amino acids produce high-intensity secondary-ion parent peaks (M+1)+ and (M−1).

  • - In addition positive as well as negative fragment ions representative for the different functional groups are emitted with high yields.

  • - For 2.5 keV Ar+-ions the absolute yields for the parent ions and the most important fragment ions are in the range of 0.1; the damage cross section is >10−14 cm2 for all investigated acids. The resulting absolute sensitivities are below 10−6 of one monomolecular layer or <10−12 g.

We infer from these results that static SIMS is an excellent tool for trace detection, structural investigation and surface reaction studies of amino acids.

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Benninghoven, A., Jaspers, D. & Sichtermann, W. Secondary-ion emission of amino acids. Appl. Phys. 11, 35–39 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00895013

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PACS Codes

  • 79.20
  • 87