Ion mobility spectrometry of superheated macromolecules at electric fields up to 500 Td

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Andrzejewski, Roch
Entwistle, Andrew
Giles, Roger
Shvartsburg, Alexandre A.
Andrzejewski, R., Entwistle, A., Giles, R., & Shvartsburg, A. A. (2021). Ion mobility spectrometry of superheated macromolecules at electric fields up to 500 td. Analytical Chemistry, doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.1c02299
Since its inception in 1980s, differential or field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) has been implemented at or near ambient gas pressure. We recently developed FAIMS at 15–30 Torr with mass spectrometry and utilized it to analyze amino acids, isomeric peptides, and protein conformers. The separations broadly mirrored those at atmospheric pressure, save for larger proteins that (as predicted) exhibited dipole alignment at ambient but not low pressure. Here we reduce the pressure down to 4.7 Torr, allowing normalized electric fields up to 543 Td—double the maximum in prior FAIMS or IMS studies of polyatomic ions. Despite the collisional heating to ∼1000 °C at the waveform peaks, the proteins of size from ubiquitin to albumin survived intact. The dissociation of macromolecules in FAIMS appears governed by the average ion temperature over the waveform cycle, unlike the isomerization controlled by the peak temperature. The global separation trends in this “superhot” regime extend those at moderately low pressures, with distinct conformers and no alignment as theorized. Although the scaling of the compensation voltage with the field fell below cubic at lower fields, the resolving power increased and the resolution of different proteins or charge states substantially improved.
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