Sublimation Electrification of Organic Compounds

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The electrification of crystalline deposits of organic compounds under high vacuum was measured and quantified. A group of compounds that produce multiply charged ions by matrix-assisted ionization were deposited on a metal plate, and the current was amplified and recorded; the total charge was obtained by integration of the current. Signals of several hundred picoamperes were obtained within 10 s of the application of high vacuum and persisted for several minutes as the compounds sublimed. The magnitude and sign of the charge were matrix dependent and were affected by the presence of organic or mineral acid in the crystalline deposit, as well as by the application of an electric field. The observations are interpreted as surface electrification caused by the emission of small charged matrix particles during sublimation, with ionic charge carriers comprising protons and hydroxide ions.

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Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

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