Teflon Spray Ionization Mass Spectrometry

Rahul Narayanan, Xiaowei Song, Hao Chen, Richard N. Zare

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Polytetrafluoroethene, commonly known as Teflon, is a plastic famous for its inertness, strength, and nonstick properties, allowing its repeated use in many applications. We report the use of a triangularly cut Teflon substrate to take the place of paper in a form of spray mass spectrometry. A conducting wire (gold) at high potential (positive or negative) makes contact with a drop of the liquid sample at the apex of the triangle, causing a spray of droplets to be directed toward the heated inlet of a mass spectrometer. Saccharides, drugs, illegal additives, peptides, proteins, bilirubin, and vancomycin give mass spectra with high signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios, allowing detection at the nanogram per milliliter (ng/mL) level. Examination of each of these analytes demonstrates that Teflon spray is several orders of magnitude more sensitive than paper spray under the same conditions. Teflon spray ionization mass spectrometry is applied to the metabolomic and lipidomic profiling of biological fluid samples. Detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is achieved with Teflon spray at 10 μg/mL concentrations. These experiments show the advantage of using Teflon over a normal paper substrate in detecting many environmentally and biologically relevant systems with high sensitivity and S/N ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-239
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 5 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


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