A.S. Galhena, G.A. Harris, L. Nyadong, K.K. Murray, F.M. Fernandez, Small molecule ambient mass spectrometry imaging by infrared laser ablation metastable-induced chemical ionization, Anal. Chem. 82 (2010) 2178–2181. doi:10.1021/ac902905v.
Presented here is a novel ambient ion source termed infrared laser ablation metastable-induced chemical ionization (IR-LAMICI). IR-LAMICI integrates IR laser ablation and direct analysis in real time (DART)-type metastable-induced chemical ionization for open air mass spectrometry (MS) ionization. The ion generation in the IR-LAMICI source is a two step process. First, IR laser pulses impinge the sample surface ablating surface material. Second, a portion of ablated material reacts with the metastable reactive plume facilitating gas-phase chemical ionization of analyte molecules generating protonated or deprotonated species in positive and negative ion modes, respectively. The successful coupling of IR-laser ablation with metastable-induced chemical ionization resulted in an ambient plasma-based spatially resolved small molecule imaging platform for mass spectrometry (MS). The analytical capabilities of IR-LAMICI are explored by imaging pharmaceutical tablets, screening counterfeit drugs, and probing algal tissue surfaces for natural products. The resolution of a chemical image is determined by the crater size produced with each laser pulse but not by the size of the metastable gas jet. The detection limits for an active pharmaceutical ingredient (acetaminophen) using the IR-LAMICI source is calculated to be low picograms. Furthermore, three-dimensional computational fluid dynamic simulations showed improvements in the IR-LAMICI ion source are possible.