A microfabricated rapid desalting device for integration with electrospraying tip
Tibavinsky, Ivan Andres
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Electrospray Ionization (ESI) is a technique that permits the soft ionization of large proteins and biomolecules without fragmenting them, which allows them to be characterized via Mass Spectrometry (MS). It has the potential of permitting the identification of transient intermediate products in biological processes in situ, which would provide great insight to researchers in the growing fields of proteomics and metabolomics. However, this application presents a technical challenge in that most relevant biochemistry occurs in aqueous solutions with high salt content, which makes successful identification of analytes by ESI-MS difficult. This thesis presents the design, fabrication, and characterization of a microfabricated dialysis module that could alleviate this issue by desalting samples inline between sampling and electrospraying interfaces. Its small volume (~10 nL) minimizes sample transit time and, thus, optimizes ESI-MS analysis temporal resolution. A preliminary analytical model of dialysis elucidates the key performance parameters and sets the guidelines for consideration in its design. The device is then microfabricated in a cleanroom environment using techniques that have been well established by the microelectronics industry such as E-beam evaporation and Reactive Ion Etching. The system efficiency is demonstrated experimentally by assessing its salt removal effectiveness as a function of sample residence time. Mass spectrometry analyses of proteins in solutions with high salt content further corroborate its performance.