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RATIONALE

Although alternating current (ac) corona discharge has been widely used in the fields of material science and technology, no reports have been published on its application to an atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) ion source. In this work, ac corona discharge for an APCI ion source has been examined for the first time.

METHODS

The ambient atmospheric pressure ac corona discharge (15 kHz, 2.6 kVptp) was generated by using a stainless steel acupuncture needle. The generated ions were measured using an ion trap mass spectrometer. A comparative study on ac and direct current (dc) corona APCI ion sources was carried out using triacetone triperoxide and trinitrotoluene as test samples.

RESULTS

The ac corona discharge gave ion signals as strong as dc corona discharge for both positive and negative ion modes. In addition, softer ionization was obtained with ac corona discharge than with dc corona discharge. The erosion of the needle tip induced by ac corona was less than that obtained with positive mode dc corona.

CONCLUSIONS

A good 'yardstick' for assessing ac corona is that it can be used for both positive and negative ion modes without changing the polarity of the high-voltage power supply. Thus, ac corona can be an alternative to conventional dc corona for APCI ion sources. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.