The performance of mass spectrometers with limited pumping capacity is shown to be improved through use of a discontinuous atmospheric pressure interface (DAPI). A proof-of-concept DAPI interface was designed and characterized using a miniature rectilinear ion trap mass spectrometer. The interface consists of a simple capillary directly connecting the atmospheric pressure ion source to the vacuum mass analyzer region; it has no ion optical elements and no differential pumping stages. Gases carrying ionized analytes were pulsed into the mass analyzer for short periods at high flow rates rather than being continuously introduced at lower flow rates; this procedure maximized ion transfer. The use of DAPI provides a simple solution to the problem of coupling an atmospheric pressure ionization source to a miniature instrument with limited pumping capacity. Data were recorded using various atmospheric pressure ionization sources, including electrospray ionization (ESI), nano-ESI, atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI), and desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) sources. The interface was opened briefly for ion introduction during each scan. With the use of the 18 W pumping system of the Mini 10, limits of detection in the low part-per-billion levels were achieved and unit resolution mass spectra were recorded.
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