A microfabricated planar differential ion mobility spectrometer operating from 0.4 to 1.55 atm in a supporting atmosphere of purified air was used to characterize the effects of pressure and electric field strength on compensation voltage, ion transmission, peak width, and peak intensity in differential mobility spectra. Peak positions, in compensation voltage as a function of separating rf voltage, were found to vary with pressure in a way that can be simplified by expressing both compensation and separation fields in Townsend units for E/N. The separation voltage providing the greatest compensation voltage and the greatest resolution is ion-specific but often occurs at E/N values that are unreachable at elevated pressure because of electrical breakdown. The pressure dependence of air breakdown voltage near 1 atm is sublinear, allowing higher E/N values to be reached at reduced pressure, usually resulting in greater instrumental resolution. Lower voltage requirements at reduced pressure also reduce device power consumption.
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