Direct coupling of polymer-based microchip electrophoresis to online MALDI-MS using a rotating ball inlet

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We report on the coupling of a polymer-based microfluidic chip to a MALDI-TOF MS using a rotating ball interface. The microfluidic chips were fabricated by micromilling a mold insert into a brass plate, which was then used for replicating polymer microparts via hot embossing. Assembly of the chip was accomplished by thermally annealing a cover slip to the embossed substrate to enclose the channels. The linear separation channel was 50 μm wide, 100 μm deep, and possessed an 8 cm effective length separation channel with a double-T injector (Vinj = 10 nL). The exit of the separation channel was machined to allow direct contact deposition of effluent onto a specially constructed rotating ball inlet to the mass spectrometer. Matrix addition was accomplished in-line on the surface of the ball. The coupling utilized the ball as the cathode transfer electrode to transport sample into the vacuum for desorption with a 355 nm Nd:YAG laser and analyzed on a TOF mass spectrometer. The ball was cleaned online after every rotation. The ability to couple poly(methylmethacrylate) microchip electrophoresis devices for the separation of peptides and peptide fragments produced from a protein digest with subsequent online MALDI MS detection was demonstrated. © 2005 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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