Characterization of microchannel plate detector response for the detection of native multiply charged high mass single ions in orthogonal-time-of-flight mass spectrometry using a Timepix detector

A. Mathew, G.B. Eijkel, I.G.M. Anthony, S.R. Ellis*, R.M.A. Heeren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Time-of-flight (TOF) systems are one of the most widely used mass analyzers in native mass spectrometry (nMS) for the analysis of non-covalent multiply charged bio-macromolecular assemblies (MMAs). Typically, microchannel plates (MCPs) are employed for high mass native ion detection in TOF MS. MCPs are well known for their reduced detection efficiency when impinged by large slow moving ions. Here, a position- and time-sensitive Timepix (TPX) detector has been added to the back of a dual MCP stack to study the key factors that affect MCP performance for MMA ions generated by nMS. The footprint size of the secondary electron cloud generated by the MCP on the TPX for each individual ion event is analyzed as a measure of MCP performance at each mass-to-charge (m/z) value and resulted in a Poisson distribution. This allowed us to investigate the dependency of ion mass, ion charge, ion velocity, acceleration voltage, and MCP bias voltage on MCP response in the high mass low velocity regime. The study of measurement ranges; ion mass = 195 to 802,000 Da, ion velocity = 8.4 to 67.4 km/s, and ion charge = 1+ to 72+, extended the previously examined mass range and characterized MCP performance for multiply charged species. We derived a MCP performance equation based on two independent ion properties, ion mass and charge, from these results, which enables rapid MCP tuning for single MMA ion detection.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4820
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • microchannel plate detector
  • native mass spectrometry
  • single ion imaging
  • time-of-flight mass spectrometry
  • Timepix detector

Cite this