The first wide-spread attention to the concept of ambient ionization/sampling prior to MS analysis was the introduction of desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) by Cooks and coworkers in 2004 . This article presented an exciting new perspective on performing both qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis by MS. The central idea was that the surface of real-life objects such as a piece of leather, a nitrile glove, a plant seed cut in half, an intact tomato, the tip of a finger, etc. could be directly examined by MS without extraction of the molecules of interest or pretreatment of the object itself.
Our group has been very active in the area of ambient ionization and ionization techniques in general. In the last few years, we have focused on a new generation of triboelectric ion sources for the analysis of sub-microliter samples with higher coverage than with standard nanoelectrospray. These ion sources make use of triboelectric nanogenerator technology to deliver controlled amounts of charge to the ion source in a pulsed fashion, being able to synchronize these events with the mass analysis cycle of the mass spectrometer.
Our group is also very interested in the development of new technologies and applications of imaging mass spectrometry. We have developed a number of new techniques in this field, which we complement with more routine techniques such as MALDI and DESI for multimodal analysis purposes. Our group has also been active in the field of 3D molecular topography for imaging of irregular surfaces. The computational aspect of imaging MS is something that we are also becoming progressively more involved with algorithms for multimodal image registration, feature identification and pattern recognition.
(1) Z. Takats, J. M. Wiseman, B. Gologan, R. G. Cooks; “Mass spectrometry sampling under ambient conditions with desorption electrospray ionization”. Science 306, 471-473 (2004).doi: 10.1126/science.1104404