A field-deployable, chemical ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer
- 1Department of Chemistry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
- 2Aerodyne Research Incorporated, Billerica, MA, USA
- 3Tofwerk AG, Thun, Switzerland
- 4Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
- 5Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
- 6Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. We constructed a new chemical ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer (CI-TOFMS) that measures atmospheric trace gases in real time with high sensitivity. We apply the technique to the measurement of formic acid via negative-ion proton transfer, using acetate as the reagent ion. A novel high pressure interface, incorporating two RF-only quadrupoles is used to efficiently focus ions through four stages of differential pumping before analysis with a compact TOFMS. The high ion-duty cycle (>20 %) of the TOFMS combined with the efficient production and transmission of ions in the high pressure interface results in a highly sensitive (>300 ions s−1 pptv−1 formic acid) instrument capable of measuring and saving complete mass spectra at rates faster than 10 Hz. We demonstrate the efficient transfer and detection of both bare ions and ion-molecule clusters, and characterize the instrument during field measurements aboard the R/V Atlantis as part of the CalNex campaign during the spring of 2010. The in-field short-term precision is better than 5 % at 1 pptv (pL/L), for 1-s averages. The detection limit (3 σ, 1-s averages) of the current version of the CI-TOFMS, as applied to the in situ detection of formic acid, is limited by the magnitude and variability in the background determination and was determined to be 4 pptv. Application of the CI-TOFMS to the detection of other inorganic and organic acids, as well as the use of different reagent ion molecules (e.g. I−, CF3O−, CO3−) is promising, as we have demonstrated efficient transmission and detection of both bare ions and their associated ion-molecule clusters.