New Mechanism of Extractive Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry for Heterogeneous Solid Particles
Real-time in situ mass spectrometry analysis of airborne particles is important in several applications, including exposure studies in ambient air, industrial settings, and assessing impacts on visibility and climate. However, obtaining molecular and 3D structural information is more challenging, especially for heterogeneous solid or semisolid particles. We report a study of extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (EESI-MS) for the analysis of solid particles with an organic coating. The goal is to elucidate how much of the overall particle content is sampled, and determine the sensitivity of this technique to the surface layers. It is shown that, for NaNO3 particles coated with glutaric acid (GA), very little of the solid NaNO3core is sampled compared to the GA coating, whereas for GA particles coated with malonic acid (MA), significant signals from both the MA coating and the GA core are observed. However, conventional ESI-MS of the same samples collected on a Teflon filter (and then extracted) detects much more core material compared to EESI-MS in both cases. These results show that, for the experimental conditions used here, EESI-MS does not sample the entire particle but, instead, is more sensitive to surface layers. Separate experiments on single-component particles of NaNO3, GA, or citric acid show that there must be a kinetics limitation to dissolution that is important in determining EESI-MS sensitivity. We propose a new mechanism of EESI solvent droplet interaction with solid particles that is consistent with the experimental observations. In conjunction with previous EESI-MS studies of organic particles, these results suggest that EESI does not necessarily sample the entire particle when solid, and that not only solubility but also surface energies and the kinetics of dissolution play an important role.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)