Time-Resolved Imaging of High Mass Proteins and Metastable Fragments Using Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization, Axial Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry, and TPX3CAM

Publication Name

Analytical Chemistry


The Timepix (TPX) is a position- and time-sensitive pixelated charge detector that can be coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF MS) in combination with microchannel plates (MCPs) for the spatially and temporally resolved detection of biomolecules. Earlier generation TPX detectors used in previous studies were limited by a moderate time resolution (at best 10 ns) and single-stop detection for each pixel that hampered the detection of ions with high mass-to-charge (m/z) values at high pixel occupancies. In this study, we have coupled an MCP-phosphor screen-TPX3CAM detection assembly that contains a silicon-coated TPX3 chip to a matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI)-axial TOF MS. A time resolution of 1.5625 ns, per-pixel multihit functionality, simultaneous measurement of TOF and time-over-threshold (TOT) values, and kHz readout rates of the TPX3 extended the m/z detection range of the TPX detector family. The detection of singly charged intact Immunoglobulin M ions of m/z value approaching 1 × 106 Da has been demonstrated. We also discuss the utilization of additional information on impact coordinates and TOT provided by the TPX3 compared to conventional MS detectors for the enhancement of the quality of the mass spectrum in terms of signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio. We show how the reduced dead time and event-based readout in TPX3 compared to the TPX improves the sensitivity of high m/z detection in both low and high mass measurements (m/z range: 757-970,000 Da). We further exploit the imaging capabilities of the TPX3 detector for the spatial and temporal separation of neutral fragments generated by metastable decay at different locations along the field-free flight region by simultaneous application of deflection and retarding fields.

Open Access Status

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Funding Number

FT 190100082

Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)