In this study, a polarization-induced electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) was developed. A micro-sized sample droplet was deposited on a naturally available dielectric substrate such as a fruit or a stone, and then placed close to (∼2mm) the orifice of a mass spectrometer applied with a high voltage. Taylor cone was observed from the sample droplet, and a spray emitted from the cone apex was generated. The analyte ion signals derived from the droplet were obtained by the mass spectrometer. The ionization process is similar to that in ESI although no direct electric contact was applied on the sample site. The sample droplet polarized by the high electric field provided by the mass spectrometer initiated the ionization process. The dielectric sample loading substrate facilitated further the polarization process, resulting in the formation of Taylor cone. The mass spectral profiles obtained via this approach resembled those obtained using ESI-MS. Multiply charged ions dominated the mass spectra of peptides and proteins, whereas singly charged ions dominated the mass spectra of small molecules such as amino acids and small organic molecules. In addition to liquid samples, this approach can be used for the analysis of solid and viscous samples. A small droplet containing suitable solvent (5-10μl) was directly deposited on the surface of the solid (or viscous) sample, placed close the orifice of mass spectrometer applied with a high voltage. Taylor cone derived from the droplet was immediately formed followed by electrospray processes to generate gas-phase ions for MS analysis. Analyte ions derived from the main ingredients of pharmaceutical tablets and viscous ointment can be extracted into the solvent droplet in situ and observed using a mass spectrometer.
- electrospray ionization
- mass spectrometry