Spectroscopic characterization of a microplasma used as ionization source for ion mobility spectrometry
We report a miniaturized excitation source for soft ionization of molecules based on a dielectric barrier discharge. An atmospheric plasma is established at the end of a 500 Î¼m diameter capillary using He as buffer gas. The plasma jet which comes out of the capillary is dependent on the gas flow rate. The mechanism of the production of N2+ outside the capillary, which is relevant for the protonation of molecules and sustains the production of primary ions, is investigated by spatially resolved spectroscopic measurements throughout the plasma. Possible application of such miniaturized plasmas is the ionization of gaseous compounds under atmospheric pressure as an alternative to traditional APCI (atmospheric pressure chemical ionization). The miniaturized plasma was applied as ionization source for ion mobility spectrometry where the common sources are radioactive, thus limiting the place of installation. First measurements of gaseous compounds with such a plasma ion mobility spectrometer with promising results showed detection limits comparable or even better than those obtained using common radioactive ionization sources.