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Electrospray ionization combined with mass spectrometry (ESI MS) will be looked at in detail to explain the use and purpose of the device and how it helps to provide information on the inorganic components of proteins. Analysis of similar techniques, such as MALDI-TOF will also be examined and compared.


Electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) is an analytical method that focuses on macromolecular structural determination. The unique component of ESI-MS is the electrospray ionization. The development of electrospraying, the process of charging a liquid into a fine aerosol, was completed in the 1960’s when Malcolm Dole ( [link] ) demonstrated the ability of chemical species to be separated through electrospray techniques. With this important turn of events, the combination of ESI and MS was feasible and was later developed by John B. Fenn ( [link] ), as a functional analytical method that could provide beneficial information about the structure and size of a protein. Fenn shared the Nobel Prize in 2002, with Koichi Tanaka ( [link] ) and Kurt Wüthrich ( [link] ) for the development of ESI-MS.

American chemist Malcolm Dole (on right) (1903 – 1990).
American chemist John Bennett Fenn (1917 - 2010) shared the Nobel Prize for his work in ESI-MS and other identification and structural analyses of biological molecules.
Japanese chemist and Nobel laureate Tanaka (1959 – ).
Swiss chemist and Nobel laureate Kurt Wüthrich (1938 – ).

ESI-MS is the process through which proteins, or macromolecules, in the liquid phase are charged and fragmented into smaller aerosol droplets. These aerosol droplets lose their solvent and propel the charged fragments into the gas phase in several components that vary by charge. These components can then be detected by a mass spectrometer. The recent boom and development of ESI-MS is attributed to its benefits in characterizing and analyzing macromolecules, specifically biologically important macromolecules such as proteins.

How does esi-ms function?

ESI-MS is a process that requires the sample to be in liquid solution, so that tiny droplets may be ionized and analyzed individually by a mass spectrometer. The following delineates the processes that occur as relevant to [link] :

  • Spray needle/capillary- The liquid solution of the desired macromolecule is introduced into the system through this needle. The needle is highly charged via an outside voltage source that maintains the charge constant across the needle. The normal charge for a needle is approximately 2.5 to 4 kV. The voltage causes the large droplets to fragment into small droplets based on charge that is accumulated from the protein constituent parts, and the liquid is now in the gas phase.
  • Droplet formation- The droplets that are expelled from the needle are smaller than initially, and as a result the solvent will evaporate. The smaller droplets then start increasing their charge density on the surface as the volume decreases. As the droplets near the Rayleigh limit, Coulombic interactions of the droplet equal the surface tension of the droplet, a Coulombic explosion occurs that further breaks the droplet into minute fractions, including the isolated analyte with charge.
  • Vacuum interface/cone - This portion of the device allows for the droplets to align in a small trail and pass through to the mass spectrometer. Alignment occurs because of the similarity and differences in charges amongst all the droplets. All the droplets are ionized to positive charges through addition of protons to varying basic sites on the droplets, yet all the charges vary in magnitude dependent upon the number of basic sites available for protonation. The receiving end or the cone has the opposite charge of the spray needle, causing an attraction between the cone and the droplets.
  • Mass spectrometer- The charged particles then reach the mass spectrometer and are deflected based on the charge of each particle. Deflection occurs by the quadrupole magnet of the mass spectrometer. The different deflection paths of the ions occur due to the strength of the interaction with the magnetic field. This leads to various paths based on a mass/charge ( m/z ) ratio. The particles are then read by the ion detector, as they arrive, providing a spectrum based on m/z ratio.

Questions & Answers

What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
advantages of NAA
Sai Reply
how I can reaction of mercury?
Sham Reply

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