Electrospray ionization using wooden tips

Bin Hu, Pui Kin So, Huanwen Chen, Zhongping Yao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


Electrospray ionization (ESI) is a mass spectrometric technique widely used in various fields including chemistry, biology, medicine, pharmaceutical industry, clinical assessment, and forensic science. In this study, we report a simple and economical ESI-mass spectrometry (MS) technique, which makes use of disposable wooden tips (wooden toothpicks) for loading and ionization of samples. Samples could be loaded by normal pipetting onto the tip or simply dipping the tip into sample solutions. The hydrophilic and porous nature of wood allows effective adhesion of the sample solution for durable ion signals. The tip can be directly connected to nano-ESI ion sources of various mass spectrometers. Upon application of high voltage to the tip, desirable mass spectra could be obtained. We demostrated that this new technique is applicable for analysis of various samples, including organic compounds, organometallic compounds, peptides, proteins, and samples that cannot be directly analyzed by conventional ESI techniques, e.g., slurry samples and powder samples. The slim and hard properties of the wooden tip enable sampling from specific locations such as corners and small openings, indicating potential applications of the new technique in forensic investigations. The observation of electrospray ionization from wooden materials also allows us to get new insights into the materials that can be directly ionized for mass spectrometric analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8201-8207
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

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