Selective mass spectrometry by single-photon ionization from a molecular hydrogen laser source.
AuthorFinch, Jeffrey William.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractA molecular hydrogen laser, with an output of 7.8 eV photons in the vacuum ultraviolet, is evaluated as a selective source for photoionization mass spectrometry. Types of compounds ionized by the laser include a variety of amines, nitrogen heterocycles, drugs of abuse, pharmaceuticals, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS). The laser is coupled to a time-of-flight mass analyzer, which allows a spectrum to be recorded with each laser pulse. The laser is a "soft" ionization source and mass spectra of nearly all of the compounds studied yield single ion peaks due to the parent molecule with no fragments. This results in simplified mass spectra with a one-to-one correspondence of photoactive molecules with molecular ion peaks. Since the photoionization threshold of the laser is relatively low, selectivity of the photoactive species is high in the presence of a complex sample matrix. The performance of the laser source is improved with a few changes in the original design. In addition, the previous method of recording mass spectra with a photographic emulsion is replaced with a digital oscilloscope, which averages spectra over many laser pulses. As a result, a true assessment of the technique's sensitivity is finally achieved. The time-of-flight mass spectrometer is modified with a new microchannel plate ion detector and preamplifier. As a result, detection limits for PAH's improve by nearly three orders of magnitude, from the 100 ng range to the 100 pg range. Selectivity of the laser photoionization source in complex mixture analysis is demonstrated with the ability to detect PAH's in a drinking water sample at concentrations below 100 parts-per-trillion, using a simple solid-phase extraction technique. Application of the technique for rapid screening of drugs of abuse in urine is demonstrated where solid-phase extraction columns are utilized for sample pretreatment. Urine samples spiked with drugs such as cocaine, codeine, morphine, phencyclidine, and methadone, yield photoionization mass spectra consisting of parent molecular ions for the drugs with a few noninterfering ion signals from the matrix. The technique is evaluated and compared to other drug screening techniques such as enzyme-multiplied immunoassay.