Here we report on a laser plasma-based tunable VUV photoionization time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer conceived mainly to study complex gaseous mixtures. Ionizing photons at tunable vacuum UV (VUV) wavelengths are generated by a gas-target laser-produced plasma, spectrally dispersed in the range 100-160 nm and efficiently focused onto a sample molecular beam. As a test case, we studied the exhaust gas of a four-stroke moped, a typical example of a complex gaseous mixture. Due to the VUV "soft" ionization, the mass spectra are less congested and more easily interpretable. Substituted benzene derivatives are found to give the most intense signals. Several aliphatic hydrocarbons are also detected. The use of tunable VUV radiation allowed the investigation of the contribution of isomers in the mass spectrum from the onset and shape of the photoionization efficiency spectra. Semiquantitative analysis was performed using known literature data detailing the photoionization cross sections. Our findings suggest that using combined data on the mass/photoionization efficiency spectra may be very helpful for a comprehensive analysis of complex gaseous mixtures. © 2009 American Society for Mass Spectrometry.
Di Palma, T. M., Prati, M. V., & Borghese, A. (2009). Tunable Single-Photon Ionization TOF Mass Spectrometry Using Laser-Produced Plasma as the Table-Top VUV Light Source. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 20(12), 2192–2198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasms.2009.08.006