Ultrasonication-assisted spray ionization-based micro-reactors for online monitoring of fast chemical reactions by mass spectrometry

Te Yu Chen, Min Li Wu, Yu-Chie Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Microfluidics can be used to handle relatively small volumes of samples and to conduct reactions in microliter-sized volumes. Electrospray ionization can couple microfluidics with mass spectrometry (MS) to monitor chemical reactions online. However, fabricating microfluidic chips is time-consuming. We herein propose the use of a micro-reactor that is sustained by two capillaries and an ultrasonicator. The inlets of the capillaries were individually immersed to two different sample vials that were subjected to the ultrasonicator. The tapered outlets of the two capillaries were placed cross with an angle of ~60° close to the inlet of the mass spectrometer to fuse the eluents. On the basis of capillary action and ultrasonication, the samples from the two capillaries can be continuously directed to the capillary outlets and fuse simultaneously to generate gas phase ions for MS analysis through ultrasonication-assisted spray ionization (UASI). Any electric contact applied on the capillaries is not required. Nevertheless, UASI spray derived from the eluents can readily occur in front of the mass spectrometer. That is, a micro-reactor was created from the fusing of the eluent containing different reactants from these two UASI capillaries, allowing reactions to be conducted in situ. The solvent in the fused droplets was evaporated quickly, and the product ions could be immediately observed by MS because of the extreme rise in the concentration of the reactants. For proof of concept, pyrazole synthesis reaction and cortisone derivatization by Girard T reagent were selected as the model reactions. The results demonstrated the feasibility of using UASI-based micro-reactor for online MS analysis to detect reaction intermediates and products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • fast reactions
  • mass spectrometry
  • microreactor
  • online monitoring
  • ultrasonication

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