Extractive electrospray ionization is an ambient ionization technique that allows real-time sampling of liquid samples, including organic aerosols.
Similar to electrospray ionization, the composition of the electrospray solvent used in extractive electrospray ionization can easily be altered to form metal cationized molecules during ionization simply by adding a metal salt to the electrospray solvent. An increase in sensitivity is observed for some molecules that are lithium, sodium, or silver cationized compared with the protonated molecule formed in extractive electrospray ionization with an acid additive.
Tandem mass spectrometry of metal cationized molecules can also significantly improve the ability to identify a compound. Tandem mass spectrometry of lithium and silver cationized molecules can result in an increase in the number and uniqueness of dissociation pathways relative to [M + H]+. These results highlight the potential for extractive electrospray ionization with metal cationization in analyzing complex aerosol mixtures.