Theoretical and experimental study of the achievable separation power in resistive-glass atmospheric pressure ion mobility spectrometry

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2010 Jul 15;24(13):1911-8. doi: 10.1002/rcm.4592.


We present a detailed investigation of the performance of our previously reported nanoelectrospray high-resolution resistive-glass atmospheric pressure drift tube ion mobility spectrometer constructed with monolithic resistive-glass desolvation and drift regions. Using experimental spectral data and theoretical pulse width and diffusion variables, we compare theoretical and experimental resolving powers achievable under a variety of field strengths and ion gate pulse widths. The effects of instrumental and operational parameters on the resolution achievable in chromatographic terms are also discussed. Following characterization of the separation power of the instrument, experimental spectral peak width data is fitted by a least-squares procedure to a pre-existing semi-empirical model developed to study contributions to peak width other than initial pulse width and diffusional broadening. The model suggests possible contributions to the final measured peak width from electric field inhomogeneity and minor contributions from instrumental parameters such as anode size, anode-to-anode grid distance and drift gas flow rate. The model also reveals an unexpected ion gate width dependence on the final measured peak width that we attribute to non-ideal performance of the Bradbury-Nielsen ion gate and limitations in the design of our pulsing-electronics.