APPI-MS: Effects of Mobile Phases and VUV Lamps on the Detection of PAH Compounds

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The technique of atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI) has several advantages over electrospray ionization (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI), including efficient ionization of nonpolar or low charge affinity compounds, reduced susceptibility to ion suppression, high sensitivity, and large linear dynamic range. These benefits are greatest at low flow rates (i.e., ≤100 μL/min), while at a higher flow, photon absorption and ion-molecule reactions become significant. Under certain circumstances, APPI signal and S/N have been observed to excel at higher flow, which may be due to a nonphotoionzation mechanism. To better understand APPI at higher flow rates, we have selected three lamps (Xe, Kr, and Ar) and four mobile phases typical for reverse-phase, high-pressure liquid chromatography: acetonitrile, methanol, (1:1) acetonitrile:water and (1:1) methanol:water. As test compounds, three polyaromatic hydrocarbons are studied: benzo[a]pyrene, indeno[1,2,3-c, d]pyrene and benz[a]anthracene. We find that solvent photoabsorption cross-section is not the only parameter in explaining relative signal intensity, but that solvent photo-ion chemistry can also play a significant role. Three conclusions from this investigation are: (1) methanol photoionization leads to protonated methanol clusters that can result in chemical ionization of analyte molecule; (2) use of the Ar lamp often results in greater signal and S/N; (3) acetonitrile photoionization is less efficient and resulting clusters are too strongly bound to chemically ionize the analyte efficiently, so that analyte ion formation is dominated by direct photoionization. © 2007 American Society for Mass Spectrometry.




Short, L. C., Cai, S. S., & Syage, J. A. (2007). APPI-MS: Effects of Mobile Phases and VUV Lamps on the Detection of PAH Compounds. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 18(4), 589–599.

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