Shrinking droplets in electrospray ionization and their influence on chemical equilibria

  • Arno Wortmann
  • Anna Kistler-Momotova
  • Renato Zenobi
  • Martin C. Heine
  • Oliver Wilhelm
  • Sotiris E. Pratsinis


We investigated how chemical equilibria are affected by the electrospray process, using simultaneous in situ measurements by laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) and phase Doppler anemometry (PDA). The motivation for this study was the increasing number of publications in which electrospray ionization mass spectrometry is used for binding constant determination. The PDA was used to monitor droplet size and velocity, whereas LIF was used to monitor fluorescent analytes within the electrospray droplets. Using acetonitrile as solvent, we found an average initial droplet diameter of 10 µm in the electrospray. The PDA allowed us to follow the evolution of these droplets down to a size of 1 µm. Rhodamine B-sulfonylchloride was used as a fluorescent analyte within the electrospray. By spatially resolved LIF it was possible to probe the dimerization equilibrium of this dye. Measurements at different spray positions showed no influence of the decreasing droplet size on the monomer-dimer equilibrium. However, with the fluorescent dye pair DCM and oxazine 1 it was shown that a concentration increase does occur within electrosprayed droplets, using fluorescence resonance energy transfer as a probe for the average pair distance.


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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arno Wortmann
    • 1
  • Anna Kistler-Momotova
    • 1
  • Renato Zenobi
    • 1
  • Martin C. Heine
    • 2
  • Oliver Wilhelm
    • 2
  • Sotiris E. Pratsinis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Applied BiosciencesETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Process EngineeringETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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