Mass Spectrometry with Electrospray Ionization from an Adjustable Gap

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: In this thesis the fabrication and analytical evaluation of two new electrospray emitters utilized for mass spectrometry analysis is presented. The emitters are based on a new concept, where the spray orifice can be varied in size. The thesis is based on two papers.All present-day nanoelectrospray emitters have fixed dimensions. The range of the applicable flow rate for such an emitter is therefore rather limited and exchange of emitters may be necessary from one experiment to another. Optimization of the signal of the analyte ions is also limited to adjustments of the applied voltage or the distance between the emitter and the mass spectrometer inlet. Furthermore, clogging can occur in emitters with fixed dimensions of narrow orifice sizes. In this thesis, electrospray emitters with a variable size of the spray orifice are proposed. An open gap between two thin substrates is filled with sample solution via a liquid bridge from a capillary. Electrospray is generated at the end point of the gap, which can be varied in width.In Paper I, electrospray emitters fabricated in polyethylene terephthalate have been evaluated. Triangular tips are manually cut from the polymer film. The tips are mounted to form a gap between the edges of the tips. The gap wall surfaces are subjected to a hydrophilic surface treatment to increase the wetting of the gap walls.In Paper II, silicon electrospray chips with high precision are fabricated and evaluated. A thin beam, elevated from the bulk silicon chip is fabricated by means of deep reactive ion etching. The top surfaces of the beams of two chips act as a sample conduit when mounted in the electrospray setup. An anisotropic etching step with KOH of the intersecting <100> crystal planes results in a very sharp spray point. The emitters were given a hydrophobic surface treatment except for the hydrophilic gap walls.For both emitter designs, the gap width has been adjusted during the experiments without any interruption of the electrospray. For a continuously applied peptide mixture, a shift towards higher charge states and increased signal to noise ratios could be observed when decreasing the gap width. The limit of detection has been investigated and the silicon chips have been interfaced with capillary electrophoresis.