Development of a portable mass spectrometer characterized by discontinuous sample gas introduction, a low-pressure dielectric barrier discharge ionization source, and a vacuumed headspace technique.Anal Chem. 2013 May 21; 85(10):5033-9.AC
The present study has attempted to downscale a mass spectrometer in order to make it portable and enable onsite analysis with it. The development of a small mass spectrometer required the use of a compact pump whose displacement was small, decreasing the sensitivity of that spectrometer. To get high sensitivity with a small mass spectrometer, we have integrated novel techniques: a highly sensitive ionization source and efficient extraction of sample vapor. The low-pressure dielectric barrier discharge ionization (LP-DBDI) source made it possible to increase the conductance between the source and the mass analyzer, compared with ambient ionization sources, enhancing the efficiency of the ion transfer from the ionization source to the mass analyzer. We have also developed a vacuumed headspace method efficiently transporting the sample vapor to the ionization source. The sensitivity was further enhanced by also using a discontinuous sample gas introduction technique. A prototype portable mass spectrometer using those novel techniques was found to be sensitive enough to detect 0.1 ppm methamphetamine, 1 ppm amphetamine, 1 ppm 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, and 10 ppm cocaine in liquid.