Direct analysis of herbal powders by pipette-tip electrospray ionization mass spectrometry

Haixing Wang, Pui Kin So, Zhongping Yao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Conventional electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) is widely used for analysis of solution samples. The development of solid-substrate ESI-MS allows direct ionization analysis of bulky solid samples. In this study, we developed pipette-tip ESI-MS, a technique that combines pipette tips with syringe and syringe pump, for direct analysis of herbal powders, another common form of samples. We demonstrated that various herbal powder samples, including herbal medicines and food samples, could be readily online extracted and analyzed using this technique. Various powder samples, such as Rhizoma coptidis, lotus plumule, great burdock achene, black pepper, Panax ginseng, roasted coffee beans, Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis and Fructus Schisandrae Sphenantherae, were analyzed using pipette-tip ESI-MS and quality mass spectra with stable and durable signals could be obtained. Both positive and negative ion modes were attempted and various compounds including amino acids, oligosaccharides, glycosides, alkaloids, organic acids, ginosensides, flavonoids and lignans could be detected. Principal component analysis (PCA) based on the acquired mass spectra allowed rapid differentiation of closely related herbal species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2014


  • Direct analysis
  • Electrospray ionization
  • Herbal powder
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Pipette tip

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Spectroscopy


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