Engineering matrix-free laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry using glancing angle deposition films

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2017 Apr 15;31(7):631-638. doi: 10.1002/rcm.7826.


Rationale: Thin, nanoporous films fabricated using Glancing Angle Deposition (GLAD) technology are demonstrated for solid matrix laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (SMALDI-MS). GLAD allows facile engineering of nanoporosity, film thickness, post alignment, and material composition, as demonstrated here by the fabrication of Co-GLAD and Si-GLAD films for SMALDI, and by exploration of the SMALDI performance as a function of thickness, post density, and angle of the post relative to surface normal.

Methods: GLAD films were prepared by electron beam evaporation onto silicon substrates, using steep angles of incidence for the vacuum deposition, with computer controlled substrate rotation. LDI from the GLAD films was evaluated using an MDS-Sciex time-of-flight (TOF) MALDI mass spectrometer.

Results: Co-GLAD films give a limit of quantitation of 6 fmol for complex carbohydrate derivatives, and slanted-post Si-GLAD films show up to three times higher sensitivity than vertical post structures. Reproducibility of both Si and Co films is much higher than conventional MALDI methods for m/z below at least 2100 Da. Both reproducibility and detection limits are comparable to or better than other nano-structured materials. Co-GLAD films are significantly better in performance than Co powders or Co thin films on silicon substrates previously evaluated.

Conclusions: The flexibility of GLAD for thin film fabrication of LDI materials is demonstrated by the range of nanoporous materials that can be grown, and the fine control over structural conformation, thickness and porosity. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.