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We present an acoustic ejection mass spectrometry (AEMS) setup for contactless electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS)-based sample injection at a sampling rate faster than current ESI and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) techniques. For the direct transfer of samples out of 384-well plates into a modified ESI source, an open port interface (OPI) was combined with a modified acoustic droplet ejection (ADE) system. AEMS has the potential to eliminate bottlenecks known from classical MS approaches, such as speed, reproducibility, carryover, ion suppression, as well as sample preparation and consumption. This setup provided a drastically reduced transfer distance between OPI and ESI electrode for optimum throughput performance and broadens the scope of applications for this emerging technique. To simulate label-free applications of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) analysis and high-throughput screening (HTS) campaigns, two stress tests were performed regarding ion suppression and system endurance in combination with minor sample preparation. The maximum sampling rate was 6 Hz for dextromethorphan and d3-dextrorphan (each 100 nM) for 1152 injections in 63 s at full width at half-maximum (FWHM) of 105 ms and a relative standard deviation (%RSD) of 7.7/7.5% without internal standard correction. Enzyme assay buffer and crude dog plasma caused signal suppression of 51/73% at %RSD of 5.7/6.7% (n = 120). An HTS endurance buffer was used for >25 000 injections with minor OPI pollution and constant signals (%RSD = 8.5%, FWHM of 177 ms ± 8.5%, n = 10 557). The optimized hardware and method setup resulted in high-throughput performance and enables further implementation in a fully automated platform for ESI-MS-based high-throughput screening.


Tim T Häbe, Chang Liu, Tom R Covey, Roman P Simon, Wolfgang Reindl, Frank H Büttner, Martin Winter, Daniel Bischoff, Andreas H Luippold, Frank Runge. Ultrahigh-Throughput ESI-MS: Sampling Pushed to Six Samples per Second by Acoustic Ejection Mass Spectrometry. Analytical chemistry. 2020 Sep 15;92(18):12242-12249

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PMID: 32786476

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