Hand-Held Diode Laser for On-Site Analysis Using Transportable Mass Spectrometry

Arrizabalaga-Larrañaga, Ane; Nielen, Michel W.F.; Blokland, Marco H.


A hand-held laser diode thermal desorption electrospray ionization (LDTD-ESI) mass spectrometry (MS) method was developed for rapid screening of illegal substances in solid samples. To achieve that, a simple, inexpensive, battery-powered surgical laser diode at 940 nm was employed to ablate the solid samples. The potential of using a black polytetrafluoroethylene substrate to enhance the analytes' desorption to the gas phase was investigated and demonstrated. Among the optimized ESI parameters, the solvent (methanol/water, 50:50, v/v) and the flow rate (50 μL h-1) were critical to obtain the best sensitivity. The applicability was demonstrated for the rapid identification of selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) in pills and powders based on accurate mass measurements by time-of-flight MS. Also, the hand-held LDTD-ESI was combined with a transportable single quadrupole MS. The same SARMs samples were analyzed, and identifications were based on in-source cone voltage fragmentation patterns observed. These initial results demonstrate the applicability of the developed simplified LDTD-ESI MS method for future on-site testing of organic compounds in solid samples.