APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Biofuel development
- Research – pharmaceutical, medical, agricultural
- Samples biological systems under native conditions with no preparation
- Integrates laser ablation sampling and mass spectrometry with IR microscopy
- High transfer efficiency of ~50%
- Spatially resolved chemical composition
Berkeley Lab researchers led by Hoi-Ying Holman have invented a technology that overcomes challenges in determining the chemical composition of complex biological systems, such as tissues, biofilms and bacterial colonies. Spatially resolved Ambient Infrared Laser Ablation Mass Spectrometry (AIRLAB-MS) uses an IR microscope with an infinity-corrected reflective objective and a continuous-flow solvent probe coupled to a mass spectrometer.
Laser ablation of water that is naturally present in biological samples ejects sample materials into a plume of fine droplets, which can be ionized by intersection with an electrospray plume or captured in solvent for ionization by electrospray. AIRLAB-MS enables transfer of material from sample to electrospray ionization emitter at a significantly higher efficiency (~50%) than values reported for similar techniques. Sample preparation is not required.
The goal of measuring and imaging the chemical composition of biological samples under native conditions, and with minimal modification/preparation, is crucial to understanding processes such as cell differentiation, photosynthesis, and metabolism. To analyze biological samples with low concentrations of some molecular species, high transfer efficiency is important. However, existing techniques report either low transfer efficiency and significant sample losses or high spatial resolution but ambiguous chemical information. AIRLAB-MS overcomes these problems, reporting a significant transfer efficiency of ~50%.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Bench scale prototype
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2014-084