Ambient ionization techniques allow complex chemical samples to be analyzed in their native state with minimal sample preparation. This brings the obvious advantages of simplicity, speed, and versatility to mass spectrometry: Desorption electrospray ionization (DESI), for example, is used in chemical imaging for tumor margin diagnosis. This review on the extractive methods of ambient ionization focuses on chemical aspects, mechanistic considerations, and the accelerated chemical reactions occurring in charged liquid droplets generated in the spray process. DESI uses high-velocity solvent droplets to extract analytes from surfaces. Nano-DESI employs liquid microjunctions for analyte dissolution, whereas paper-spray ionization uses DC potentials applied to wet porous material such as paper or biological tissue to field emit charged analyte-containing solvent droplets. These methods also operate in a reactive mode in which added reagents allow derivatization during ionization. The accelerated reaction rates seen in charged microdroplets are useful in small-scale rapid chemical synthesis.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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