Electrospray: From ions in solution to ions in the gas phase, what we know now



There is an advantage for users of electrospray and nanospray mass spectrometry to have an understanding of the processes involved in the conversion of the ions present in the solution to ions in the gas phase. The following processes are considered: Creation of charge droplets at the capillary tip; Electrical potentials required and possibility of gas discharges; Evolution of charged droplets, due to solvent evaporation and Coulomb explosions, to very small droplets that are the precursors of the gas phase ions; Production of gas phase ions from these droplets via the Ion Evaporation and Charge residue models; Analytical uses of ESIMS of small ions, qualitative and quantitative analysis; Effects of the ESI mechanism on the analysis of proteins and protein complexes; Determination of stability constants of protein complexes; Role of additives such as ammonium acetate on the observed mass spectra. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., Mass Spec Rev 28:898–917, 2009