Research ArticleChemistry

Tip-enhanced ablation and ionization mass spectrometry for nanoscale chemical analysis

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Science Advances  08 Dec 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 12, eaaq1059
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq1059


Spectroscopic methods with nanoscale lateral resolution are becoming essential in the fields of physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and materials science. However, the lateral resolution of laser-based mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) techniques has so far been limited to the microscale. This report presents the development of tip-enhanced ablation and ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TEAI-TOFMS), using a shell-isolated apertureless silver tip. The TEAI-TOFMS results indicate the capability and reproducibility of the system for generating nanosized craters and for acquiring the corresponding mass spectral signals. Multi-elemental analysis of nine inorganic salt residues and MSI of a potassium salt residue pattern at a 50-nm lateral resolution were achieved. These results demonstrate the opportunity for the distribution of chemical compositions at the nanoscale to be visualized.

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