Plasma Ion Sources for Atmospheric Pressure Ionization Mass Spectrometry.
Atmospheric pressure ionization (API) sources using direct-current (DC) and radio-frequency (RF) plasma have been developed in this thesis work. These ion sources can provide stable discharge currents of ~ 1 mA, 2-3 orders of magnitude larger than that of the corona discharge, a widely used API source. The plasmas can be generated and maintained in 1 atm of various buffer gases by applying -500 to -1000 V (DC plasma) or 1-15 W with a frequency of 165 kHz (RF plasma) on the needle electrode. These ion sources have been used with liquid injection to detect various organic compounds of pharmaceutical, biotechnological and environmental interest. Key features of these ion sources include soft ionization with the protonated molecule as the largest peak, and superb sensitivity with detection limits in the low picogram or femtomole range and a linear dynamic range over ~4 orders of magnitude. The RF plasma has advantages over the DC plasma in its ability to operate in various buffer gases and to produce a more stable plasma. Factors influencing the performance of the ion sources have been studied, including RF power level, liquid flow rate, chamber temperature, solvent composition, and voltage affecting the collision induced dissociation (CID). Ionization of hydrocarbons by the RF plasma API source was also studied. Soft ionization is generally produced. To obtain high sensitivity, the ion source must be very dry and the needle-to-orifice distance must be small. Nitric oxide was used to enhance the sensitivity. The RF plasma source was then used for the analysis of hydrocarbons in auto emissions. Comparisons between the corona discharge and the RF plasma have been made in terms of discharge current, ion residence time, and the ion source model. The RF plasma source provides larger linear dynamic range and higher sensitivity than the corona discharge, due to its much larger discharge current. The RF plasma was also observed to provide longer ion residence times and was not limited by space-charge effect as in the corona source.
- Pub Date:
- January 1994
- Chemistry: Analytical; Physics: Fluid and Plasma