Online aerosol mass spectrometry of single micrometer-sized particles containing poly(ethylene glycol)

Michael J. Bogan, Elizabeth Patton, Abneesh Srivastava, Sue Martin, David P. Fergenson, Paul T. Steele, Herbert J. Tobias, Eric E. Gard, Matthias Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The analysis of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-containing particles by online single particle aerosol mass spectrometers equipped with laser desorption/ionization (LDI) is reported. We demonstrate that PEG-containing particles are useful in the development of aerosol mass spectrometers because of their ease of preparation, low cost, and inherently recognizable mass spectra. Solutions containing millimolar quantities of PEGs were nebulized and, after drying, the resultant micrometer-sized PEG-containing particles were sampled. LDI (266 nm) of particles containing NaCl and PEG molecules of average molecular weight <500 Da generated mass spectra reminiscent of mass spectra of PEG collected by other mass spectrometer platforms including the characteristic distribution of positive ions (Na+ adducts) separated by the 44 mlz units of the ethylene oxide units separating each degree of polymerization. PEGs of average molecular weight >500 Da were detected from particles that also contained the tripeptide tyrosine-tyrosine-tyrosine or 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid, which were added to nebulized solutions to act as matrices to assist LDI using pulsed 266 nm and 355 nm lasers, respectively. Experiments were performed on two aerosol mass spectrometers, one reflectron and one linear, that each utilize two time-of-flight mass analyzers to detect positive and negative ions created from a single particle. PEG-containing particles are currently being employed in the optimization of our bioaerosol mass spectrometers for the application of measurements of complex biological samples, including human effluents, and we recommend that the same strategies will be of great utility to the development of any online aerosol LDI mass spectrometer platform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1214-1220
Number of pages7
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 4 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemistry


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