Gas-Phase Ions Produced by Freezing Water or Methanol for Analysis Using Mass Spectrometry

Introducing water or methanol containing a low concentration of volatile or nonvolatile analyte into an inlet tube cooled with dry ice linking atmospheric pressure and the first vacuum stage of a mass spectrometer produces gas-phase ions even of small proteins that can be detected by mass spectrometry. Collision-induced dissociation experiments conducted in the first vacuum region of the mass spectrometer suggest analyte ions being protected by a solvent cage. The charges may be produced by processes similar to those proposed for charge separation under freezing conditions in thunderclouds. By this process, the surface of an ice pellet is charged positive and the interior negative so that removal of surface results in charge separation. A reversal of surface charge is expected for a heated droplet surface, and this is observed by heating rather than cooling the inlet tube. These observations are consistent with charged supercooled droplets or ice particles as intermediates in the production of analyte ions under freezing conditions.