Lipid specific molecular ion emission as a function of the primary ion characteristics in TOF-SIMS

J Vac Sci Technol B Nanotechnol Microelectron. 2016 Sep;34(5):051804. doi: 10.1116/1.4961461. Epub 2016 Aug 24.


In the present work, the emission characteristics of lipids as a function of the primary ion cluster size and energy were studied using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS). Characteristic fragmentation patterns for common lipids are described, and changes in secondary ion (SI) yields using various primary ion beams are reported. In particular, emission characteristics were studied for pairs of small polyatomic and nanoparticle primary ion beams (e.g., Bi3+ versus Ar1000+ and Au3+ versus Au400+4) based on the secondary ion yield of characteristic fragment and intact molecular ions as a function of the lipid class. Detailed descriptions of the fragmentation patterns are shown for positive and negative mode TOF-SIMS. Results demonstrate that the lipid structure largely dictates the spectral presence of molecular and/or fragment ions in each ionization mode due to the localization of the charge carrier (head group or fatty acid chain). Our results suggest that the larger the energy per atom for small polyatomic projectiles (Bi3+ and Au3+), the larger the SI yield; in the case of nanoparticle projectiles, the SI increase with primary ion energy (200-500 keV range) for Au400+4 and with the decrease of the energy per atom (10-40 eV/atom range) for Arn=500-2000+ clusters. The secondary ion yield of the molecular ion of lipids from a single standard or from a mixture of lipids does not significantly change with the primary ion identity in the positive ion mode TOF-SIMS and slightly decreases in the negative ion mode TOF-SIMS.