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Improving Ion Mobility Spectrometer Sensitivity through the Extended Field Switching Ion Shutter

Kirk, Ansgar T., Kueddelsmann, Maximilian J., Bohnhorst, Alexander, Lippmann, Martin, Zimmermann, Stefan
Analytical chemistry 2020 v.92 no.7 pp. 4838-4847
detection limit, ionization, ions, ketones, spectrometers
Field switching ion shutters allow generating short ion packets with high ion densities by first ionizing for several milliseconds in a field-free ionization region and then quickly pushing the entire ion population out into the drift region. Thus, they are an excellent choice for compact ion mobility spectrometers with both high resolving power and low limits of detection. Here, we present an improved setup, named the extended field switching ion shutter. By generating a second field-free region between the ionization region and the drift region, shielding of the ionization region is significantly improved, even when using grids with higher optical transparency to improve ion transmission into the drift region. Furthermore, it is shown that under certain conditions, ion transmission through multiple grids in series can even surpass transmission through a single grid of the same transparency. For the studied ions, the signal intensity at low concentrations increases by approximately a factor of 7 to 9 for protonated monomers, 10 to 14 for proton-bound dimers, and 25 for the proton-bound 1-octanol trimer compared to the classical field switching shutter. However, due to the nonlinear response for ions containing multiple analyte molecules, the limits of detection improve only by a factor of 3 to 4 for proton-bound dimers and 3 for the proton-bound 1-octanol trimer. Nevertheless, this still leads to single-digit pptᵥ limits of detection for protonated monomers and hundred pptᵥ limits of detection for proton-bound dimers measured for a series of ketones. However, for the most intense peaks such as the reactant ion peak, a significant loss of resolving power by a factor of up to 1.4 was observed due to Coulomb repulsion.