Californium-252 plasma desorption mass spectroscopy

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Science  05 Mar 1976:
Vol. 191, Issue 4230, pp. 920-925
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251202


We have shown that 252Cf-PDMS is capable of producing mass spectra of quasi-molecular ions for a wide variety of compounds, including amino acids, moderately large peptides, nucleotides, and natural products. Positive and negative ion mass spectra can be obtained, and in many cases quasi-molecular ions are observed in both. The method is nondestructive, as only a relatively few molecules are used and samples can be recovered after the measurement is made. Fragmentation patterns are obtained which can yield structure information. The present sensitivity of the method is at the nanogram level and there are possibilities for reducing this to picograms. The mass resolution is sufficient to give elemental identification up to mass 500. This may be extended to higher masses with improved time-of-flight techniques. There are indications that 252Cf-PDMS may extend the mass range of molecules that can be studied to as high as 3000 or more.