Analytical chemistry, 72(2):416-22, 1, 2000. Paper Website abstract bibtex
A variety of factors have been investigated with regard to the quantitation of chemical species within individual ambient aerosol particles analyzed by laser desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Spectrum to spectrum differences in the interaction of the particle with the ionization laser beam, which affect the absolute peak areas in the mass spectra, can be minimized by using relative peak areas instead of absolute peak areas in each spectrum. Whereas absolute peak areas vary by an average of 59% for a given ion peak in single particle mass spectra of a monodisperse aerosol of particles formed from the same solution, relative peak areas in the same mass spectra vary only by an average of 16%. Relative sensitivity factors (RSF) relating the mass spectral ion intensity of NH4+ and the alkali metal cations Li+, Na+, K+, Rb+, and Cs+ in single particle aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometry to their bulk concentrations have been determined. The values for Li+/Na+, K+/Na+, Rb+/Na+, Cs+/Na+, and NH4+/Na+ are found to be 0.14, 5.1, 6.0, 7.9, and 0.014, respectively. The higher response for heavier cations of the alkali metals is consistent with the periodic trends of both ionization potential and lattice energies of the species of interest. The response factor for sodium and potassium cations has been used to accurately determine the relative amounts of Na+ and K+ in sea-salt particles, by analyzing a sample of approximately 360 ambient sea-salt particles. The relative amounts of Na+ and K+ are found to be 97 and 3% in particles, respectively, whereas in seawater they are, on average, 98 and 2%.