Solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) is an effective technique that can be used to selectively enrich trace analytes of interest from complex samples. Owing to its high sensitivity and high selectivity, mass spectrometry (MS) has been widely used as the detection tool to confirm the analytes enriched on SPME fibers. Generally, thermal desorption or solvent desorption is used to desorb analytes from SPME fibers for MS analysis. A straightforward ionization method called carbon fiber ionization (CFI), which uses a single carbon fiber (diameter: ∼10 μm) as ionization emitter in MS, has been demonstrated lately. Analytes adsorbed on the carbon fiber, which is placed close (∼5 mm) to the inlet of a mass spectrometer, can be readily ionized through corona discharge and detected by the mass spectrometer. One unique feature regarding this approach over other existing ambient ionization methods is that no additional electric contact is applied directly on the carbon fiber. Nevertheless, on the basis of the electric field provided by the mass spectrometer, corona discharge can readily occur for ionizing analytes on the carbon fiber. Carbon fiber has high affinity toward polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons due to its graphite-like surface structure. We herein explore a hyphenated-technique by combining carbon-fiber based SPME with CFI-MS for extraction of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), a carcinogen, from aqueous samples. After BaP are adsorbed on a carbon fiber through SPME, the SPME carbon fiber can be readily placed in front of the mass spectrometer for MS analysis. The ions at m/z 252 derived from BaP adsorbed on the carbon fiber can be immediately acquired by the mass spectrometer without the requirement of applying heating or solvent. The limit of detection of BaP using the developed method was as low as ∼60 pM. It is also feasible to detect BaP from complex serum sample. The feasibility of using the approach for quantitative analysis of BaP was also demonstrated. The linear dynamic range toward BaP was 0.2–5 nM. The extraction efficiency using this approach for aqueous samples was ∼91%.
- Atmospheric pressure ionization
- Carbon fiber ionization
- Mass spectrometry
- Solid phase microextraction