Compact ultrafast orthogonal acceleration time-of-flight mass spectrometer for on-line gas analysis by electron impact ionization and soft single photon ionization using an electron beam pumped rare gas excimer lamp as VUV-light source.
Orthogonal acceleration time-of-flight mass spectrometers (oaTOFMS), which are exhibiting a pulsed orthogonal extraction of ion bunches into the TOF mass analyzer from a continuous primary ion beam, are well-suited for continuous ionization methods such as electron impact ionization (EI). Recently an electron beam pumped rare gas excimer lamp (EBEL) was introduced, which emits intensive vacuum UV (VUV) radiation at, e.g., 126 nm (argon excimer) and is well suited as the light source for soft single photon ionization (SPI) of organic molecules. In this paper, a new compact oaTOFMS system which allows switching between SPI, using VUV-light from an EBEL-light source, and conventional EI is described. With the oaTOFMS system, EBEL-SPI and EI mass spectral transients can be recorded at very high repetition rates (up to 100 kHz), enabling high duty cycles and therefore good detection efficiencies. By using a transient recorder card with the capability to perform on-board accumulation of the oaTOF transients, final mass spectra with a dynamic range of 106 can be saved to the hard disk at a rate of 10 Hz. As it is possible to change the ionization modes (EI and SPI) rapidly, a comprehensive monitoring of complex gases with highly dynamic compositions, such as cigarette smoke, is possible. In this context, the EI based mass spectra address the bulk composition (compounds such as water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. in the up to percentage concentration range) as well as some inorganic trace gases such as argon, sulfur dioxide, etc. down to the low ppm level. The EBEL-SPI mass spectra on the other hand are revealing the organic composition down to the lower ppb concentration range.