It is known that high‐molecular‐weight, thermally labile molecules can be desorbed intact using keV ion beams. This knowledge has led to numerous applications of fast atom bombardment and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) by mass spectrometric detection of the desorbed ions. Here we show that these measurements can be enhanced significantly by using resonance‐enhanced laser ionization to softly ionize the neutral component of the desorbed flux. This experimental configuration can produce sensitivity improvements of several orders of magnitude over SIMS while adding a certain degree of selectivity to the ionization process itself. Examples of this performance will be presented using a wide variety of molecules, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organic polymers, molecular salts and biologically important molecules. Results from model systems to complex samples are discussed, along with their implications for submicron molecular imaging using this technique.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry