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Abstract

The separation and ion focusing properties of High-Field Asymmetric Waveform Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) depend on desolvated ions entering the device, leading to a compound-specific, reproducible compensation voltage (CV) for each ion. This study shows that the conditions identified for stable spray and satisfactory ion desolvation in normal electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) operation might significantly differ from those required for FAIMS-MS. In a typical setup with high-flow electrospray conditions, ions could be incompletely desolvated, resulting in the formation of unidentified clusters with differing behavior in a FAIMS environment. This causes compound-specific shifts of as much as 10 V in CV values when the mobile phase composition and/or flow rate are varied. The shifts diminish and finally disappear when the flow rate of methanol, used as mobile phase, is reduced to 40 µL/min and that of acetonitrile to 20 µL/min. The reproducibility of the observed CV was determined by scanning the CV while infusing a five-component mixture into a 400 µL/min flow of methanol or 50:50 acetonitrile/water. The relative standard deviation (RSD) for these multiple scans ranged from 0.7% to 6%. Therefore, under a constant set of experimental parameters, the CV does not shift appreciably. These observations have an impact on method development strategies. High flow rates can be used with the FAIMS device, since the CV values are reproducible, but it is likely that clusters are forming. Therefore, CV scans should be performed under conditions which mimic the chromatographic elution or flow injection analysis conditions, including matrix composition, to minimize errors in CV determination. An alternative approach is to determine the liquid flow rate at which the CV becomes compound-specific and to split the mobile phase stream accordingly. These experimental results may be specific to the setup used for this study and may not be directly applicable to other instrument FAIMS devices. Copyright © 2006 Crown in the right of Canada. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.