Automated 3D Sampling and Imaging of Uneven Sample Surfaces with LA-REIMS

Sylvia P. Nauta, Pascal Huysmans, Gabriëlle J.M. Tuijthof, Gert B. Eijkel, Martijn Poeze, Tiffany Porta Siegel, Ron M.A. Heeren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


The analysis of samples with large height variations remains a challenge for mass spectrometry imaging (MSI), despite many technological advantages. Ambient sampling and ionization MS techniques allow for the molecular analysis of sample surfaces with height variations, but most techniques lack MSI capabilities. We developed a 3D MS scanner for the automated sampling and imaging of a 3D surface with laser-assisted rapid evaporative ionization mass spectrometry (LA-REIMS). The sample is moved automatically with a constant distance between the laser probe and sample surface in the 3D MS Scanner. The topography of the surface was scanned with a laser point distance sensor to define the MS measurement points. MS acquisition was performed with LA-REIMS using a surgical CO2 laser coupled to a qTOF instrument. The topographical scan and MS acquisition can be completed within 1 h using the 3D MS scanner for 300 measurement points on uneven samples with a spatial resolution of 2 mm in the top view, corresponding to 22.04 cm2. Comparison between the automated acquisition with the 3D MS scanner and manual acquisition by hand showed that the automation resulted in increased reproducibility between the measurement points. 3D visualizations of molecular distributions related to structural differences were shown for an apple, a marrowbone, and a human femoral head to demonstrate the imaging feasibility of the system. The developed 3D MS scanner allows for the automated sampling of surfaces with uneven topographies with LA-REIMS, which can be used for the 3D visualization of molecular distributions of these surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D mass spectrometry imaging
  • Automation
  • Surface sampling


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