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We have used an infrared laser to ablate materials under ambient conditions that were captured in solvent droplets. The droplets were either deposited on a MALDI target for off-line analysis by MALDI time-of-flight mass spectrometry or flow-injected into a nanoelectrospray source of an ion trap mass spectrometer. An infrared optical parametric oscillator (OPO) laser system at 2.94 μm wavelength and approximately 1 mJ pulse energy was focused onto samples for ablation at atmospheric pressure. The ablated material was captured in a solvent droplet 1-2 mm in diameter that was suspended from a silica capillary a few millimeters above the sample target. Once the sample was transferred to the droplet by ablation, the droplet was deposited on a MALDI target. A saturated matrix solution was added to the deposited sample, or in some cases, the suspended capture droplet contained the matrix. Peptide and protein standards were used to assess the effects of the number of IR laser ablation shots, sample to droplet distance, capture droplet size, droplet solvent, and laser pulse energy. Droplet collected samples were also injected into a nanoelectrospray source of an ion trap mass spectrometer with a 500 nL injection loop. It is estimated that pmol quantities of material were transferred to the droplet with an efficiency of approximately 1%. The direct analysis of biological fluids for off-line MALDI and electrospray was demonstrated with blood, milk, and egg. The implications of this IR ablation sample transfer approach for ambient imaging are discussed. © 2011 American Society for Mass Spectrometry.

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Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

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