Soft ionization methods for the introduction of labile biomolecules into a mass spectrometer are of fundamental importance to biomolecular analysis. Previously, electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix assisted laser desorption-ionization (MALDI) have been the main ionization methods used. Surface acoustic wave nebulization (SAWN) is a new technique that has been demonstrated to deposit less energy into ions upon ion formation and transfer for detection than other methods for sample introduction into a mass spectrometer (MS). Here we report the optimization and use of SAWN as a nebulization technique for the introduction of samples from a low flow of liquid, and the interfacing of SAWN with liquid chromatographic separation (LC) for the analysis of a protein digest. This demonstrates that SAWN can be a viable, low-energy alternative to ESI for the LC-MS analysis of proteomic samples.
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Funding: EPSRC (EP/I017887/1; P/K027611/1); Aston University; ERC advanced investigator award (340117 – Biophonics).
Supplementary information accompanies this paper at http://www.nature.com/