Electrostatic spray ionization
Electrostatic spray ionization (ESTASI) is an ambient ionization method for mass spectrometry (MS) analysis of samples located on a flat or porous surface, or inside a microchannel. It was developed in 2011 by Professor Hubert H. Girault’s group at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. In a typical ESTASI process, a droplet of a protic solvent containing analytes is deposited on a sample area of interest which itself is mounted to an insulating substrate. Under this substrate and right below the droplet, an electrode is placed and connected with a pulsed high voltage (HV) to electrostatically charge the droplet during pulsing. When the electrostatic pressure is larger than the surface tension, droplets and ions are sprayed. ESTASI is a contactless process based on capacitive coupling. One advantage of ESTASI is, that the electrode and sample droplet act contact-less avoiding thereby any oxidation or reduction of the sample compounds at the electrode surface, which often happens during standard electrospray ionization (ESI). ESTASI is a powerful new ambient ionization technique that has already found many applications in the detection of different analytes, such as organic molecules, peptides and proteins with molecule weight up to 70 kDa. Furthermore, it was used to couple MS with various separation techniques including capillary electrophoresis and gel isoelectric focusing, and it was successfully applied under atmospheric pressure to the direct analysis of samples with only few preparation steps.