October 29, 2022
Journal Article

Focusing ions at atmospheric pressure using nonlinear DC voltage sequences applied to a stacked ring ion guide


Many modern ion mobility (IM) and mass spectrometers (MS) operate under low pressure (= 10 Torr) and employ high voltage radiofrequencies (RF) to provide ion confinement. Unfortunately, RF effectiveness drastically decreases as pressure increases, and few techniques for focusing ions at elevated pressures exist. Here we demonstrate a new approach for focusing ions at atmospheric pressure (AP) by applying nonlinear DC voltage sequences following quadratic and power (exponential) functions to a stacked ring ion guide. We used ion trajectory simulations to rigorously explore how ions react to nonlinear electric fields and validate the simulations with a set of ion current measurements performed at AP. Ion trajectory simulations show that ions initially defocus near the entrance of the device but then become intensely focused as they travel through the device. Contour plots for both nonlinear voltage sequences show electric field lines that increasingly curve inwards as a function of distance, resulting in spatial ion focusing. Experimental ion current and spot size measurements were performed at AP using a 10-cm stacked ring ion guide and a segmented Faraday cup detector. Quadratic sequences produced ~5% smaller spot sizes (~22.8 mm) and ~25% higher ion current compared to a linear voltage sequence (~24.0 mm). Alternatively, power sequences produced ~64% smaller spot sizes (~8.7 mm), albeit with ~10x lower ion current. However, both nonlinear voltage sequences produced similar ion currents at the center of the Faraday cup detector, indicating that higher ion densities are achieved when using nonlinear voltage gradients. These results demonstrate a new way to focus ions at AP, and the capabilities demonstrated here provide fundamental insights on how to keep ions inside analytical devices at elevated pressures without RF.

Published: October 29, 2022


Hollerbach A.L., Y.M. Ibrahim, R.V. Norheim, T.O. Metz, and R.G. Ewing. 2022. Focusing ions at atmospheric pressure using nonlinear DC voltage sequences applied to a stacked ring ion guide. International Journal of Mass Spectrometry 482. PNNL-SA-175588. doi:10.1016/j.ijms.2022.116948