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Effect of Nanoemitters on Suppressing the Formation of Metal Adduct Ions in Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry

Hu, Jun, Guan, Qi-Yuan, Wang, Jiang, Jiang, Xiao-Xiao, Wu, Zeng-Qiang, Xia, Xing-Hua, Xu, Jing-Juan, Chen, Hong-Yuan
Analytical chemistry 2017 v.89 no.3 pp. 1838-1845
droplets, electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, gases, ions
In the work, we showed that the use of nanoemitters (tip dimension <1 μm, typically ∼100 nm) could dramatically reduce the nonspecific metal adduction to peptide or protein ions as well as improve the matrix tolerance of electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). The proton-enriched smaller initial droplets are supposed to have played a significant role in suppressing the formation of metal adduct ions in nanoemitters. The proton-enrichment effect in the nanoemitters is related to both the exclusion-enrichment effect (EEE) and the ion concentration polarization effect (ICP effect), which permit the molecular ions to be regulated to protonated ones. Smaller initial charged droplets generated from nanoemitters need less fission steps to release the gas-phase ions; thus, the enrichment effect of salt was not as significant as that of microemitters (tip dimension >1 μm), resulting in the disappearing of salt cluster peaks in high mass-to-charge (m/z) region. The use of nanoemitters demonstrates a novel method for tuning the distribution of the metal-adducted ions to be in a controlled manner. This method is also characterized by ease of use and high efficiency in eliminating the formation of adduct ions, and no pretreatment such as desalting is needed even in the presence of salt at millimole concentration.