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Keywords:

  • high pressure ion source;
  • atmospheric pressure chemical ionization;
  • corona discharge;
  • gaseous ionization;
  • benzene;
  • explosive

Super-atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) mass spectrometry was performed using a commercial mass spectrometer by pressurizing the ion source with compressed air up to 7 atm. Similar to typical APCI source, reactant ions in the experiment were generated with corona discharge using a needle electrode. Although a higher needle potential was necessary to initiate the corona discharge, discharge current and detected ion signal were stable at all tested pressures. A Roots booster pump with variable pumping speed was installed between the evacuation port of the mass spectrometer and the original rough pumps to maintain a same pressure in the first pumping stage of the mass spectrometer regardless of ion source pressure. Measurement of gaseous methamphetamine and research department explosive showed an increase in ion intensity with the ion source pressure until an optimum pressure at around 4–5 atm. Beyond 5 atm, the ion intensity decreased with further increase of pressure, likely due to greater ion losses inside the ion transport capillary. For benzene, it was found that besides molecular ion and protonated species, ion due to [M + 2H]+ which was not so common in APCI, was also observed with high ion abundance under super-atmospheric pressure condition. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.