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Soft Picosecond Infrared Laser Extraction of Highly Charged Proteins and Peptides from Bulk Liquid Water for Mass Spectrometry

Lu, Yinfei, Pieterse, Cornelius L., Robertson, Wesley D., Miller, R. J. Dwayne
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.7 pp. 4422-4428
ambient temperature, aqueous solutions, atmospheric pressure, electric power, ionization, ions, liquids, mass spectrometry, pH, peptides, proteins
We report the soft laser extraction and production of highly charged peptide and protein ions for mass spectrometry directly from bulk liquid water at atmospheric pressure and room temperature, using picosecond infrared laser ablation. Stable ion signal from singly charged small molecules, as well as highly charged biomolecular ions, from aqueous solutions at low laser pulse fluence (∼0.3 J cm–²) is demonstrated. Sampling via single picosecond laser pulses is shown to extract less than 27 pL of volume from the sample, producing highly charged peptide and protein ions for mass spectrometry detection. The ablation and ion generation is demonstrated to be soft in nature, producing natively folded proteins ions under sample conditions described for native mass spectrometry. The method provides laser-based sampling flexibility, precision and control with highly charged ion production directly from water at low and near neutral pH. This approach does not require an additional ionization device or high voltage applied directly to the sample.