The high mass accuracy and resolving power of Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometers (FT-ICR MS) make them ideal mass detectors for mass spectrometry imaging (MSI), promising to provide unmatched molecular resolution capabilities. The intrinsic low tolerance of FT-ICR MS to RF interference, however, along with typically vertical positioning of the sample, and MSI acquisition speed requirements present numerous engineering challenges in creating robotics capable of achieving the spatial resolution to match. This work discusses a two-dimensional positioning stage designed to address these issues. The stage is capable of operating in ∼1 × 10–8 mbar vacuum. The range of motion is set to 100 mm × 100 mm to accommodate large samples, while the positioning accuracy is demonstrated to be less than 0.4 micron in both directions under vertical load over the entire range. This device was integrated into three different matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) FT-ICR instruments and showed no detectable RF noise. The “oversampling” MALDI-MSI experiments, under which the sample is completely ablated at each position, followed by the target movement of the distance smaller than the laser beam, conducted on the custom-built 7T FT-ICR MS demonstrate the stability and positional accuracy of the stage robotics which delivers high spatial resolution mass spectral images at a fraction of the laser spot diameter.

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Journal Rev. Sci. Instrum.
Aizikov, K, Smith, D.F, Chargin, D.A, Ivanov, S, Lin, T-Y, Heeren, R.M.A, & O'Connor, P.B. (2011). Vacuum compatible sample positioning device for matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry imaging. Rev. Sci. Instrum., 82(Article number: 54102), 1–8. doi:10.1063/1.3594099