Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 404, Issue 6–7, pp 1713–1721 | Cite as

Analyzing small samples with high efficiency: capillary batch injection–capillary electrophoresis–mass spectrometry

Original Paper


We present an experimental approach to conducting fast capillary electrophoresis–mass spectrometry (CE-MS) measurements of very small samples in the nanoliter range. This is achieved by injecting sample very efficiently into a CE-MS system. Injection efficiency represents the ratio of injected sample to the amount of sample needed for carrying out the injection process (v/v). In order to increase this injection efficiency from typical values of 10–3 to 10−7, the concept of capillary batch injection is used to build an automated, small-footprint injection device for CE-MS. This device is capable of running true multi-sample measurement series, using minimal sample volumes and delivering an injection efficiency of up to 100 %. It is compatible with both aqueous and non-aqueous background electrolytes. As an additional benefit, CE-MS separations of a catecholamine model system in capillaries of 15 cm length under conditions of high electric field strength could be accomplished in 20 s with high separation efficiency. This report details design and specifications of the injection device and shows optimal parameter choices for injections with both high injection efficiency and high separation efficiency. Furthermore, a procedure is presented to coat the tip of a fused silica capillary with a silicone elastomer which acts as a seal between two capillaries.


An approach to transfer nL-samples into the separation capillary of a CE-MS system is presented. The automated and computer-controlled setup can transfer samples with up to 100 % efficiency from the point of sampling into the separation capillary, where highly efficient and fast CE-MS separations are conducted


Injection efficiency Fast capillary electrophoresis Hyphenation Mass spectrometry Small sample Fused silica capillaries High electric field strengths Catecholamines 



Background electrolyte


Capillary batch injection


Capillary electrophoresis


Electrospray ionization


Inner diameter


Mass spectrometry


Time-of-flight mass spectrometry



We would like to thank the glass, mechanical, and electronic workshops at the University of Regensburg for their assistance in implementing the experimental setup. Financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (MA 1401/7-1) is gratefully acknowledged. This research was supported by the Research Executive Agency (REA) of the European Union under Grant Agreement number PITN-GA-2010-264772 (ITN CHEBANA).

Supplementary material

216_2012_6282_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (4 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 4 kb)

(AVI 13,363 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Analytical Chemistry, Chemo- and BiosensorsUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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