Time-Resolved Imaging of the MALDI Linear-TOF Ion Cloud: Direct Visualization and Exploitation of Ion Optical Phenomena Using a Position- and Time-Sensitive Detector

Shane R. Ellis, Jens Soltwisch, Ron M. A. Heeren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


In this study, we describe the implementation of a position- and time-sensitive detection system (Timepix detector) to directly visualize the spatial distributions of the matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization ion cloud in a linear-time-of-flight (MALDI linear-ToF) as it is projected onto the detector surface. These time-resolved images allow direct visualization of m/z-dependent ion focusing effects that occur within the ion source of the instrument. The influence of key parameters, namely extraction voltage (E(V)), pulsed-ion extraction (PIE) delay, and even the matrix-dependent initial ion velocity was investigated and were found to alter the focusing properties of the ion-optical system. Under certain conditions where the spatial focal plane coincides with the detector plane, so-called x-y space focusing could be observed (i.e., the focusing of the ion cloud to a small, well-defined spot on the detector). Such conditions allow for the stigmatic ion imaging of intact proteins for the first time on a commercial linear ToF-MS system. In combination with the ion-optical magnification of the system (~100?), a spatial resolving power of 11?16 ?m with a pixel size of 550 nm was recorded within a laser spot diameter of ~125 ?m. This study demonstrates both the diagnostic and analytical advantages offered by the Timepix detector in ToF-MS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-819
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Ion optics
  • Imaging MS
  • Fundamentals

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