Journal article Open Access
Dattelbaum, Andrew M.; Iyer, Srinivas
Laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MS) is rapidly growing in popularity as an analytical characterization method in several fields. The technique shot to prominence using matrix-assisted desorption/ionization for large biomolecules (>700 Da), such as proteins, peptides and nucleic acids. However, because the matrix, which consists of small organic molecules, is also ionized, the technique is of limited use in the low-molecular-mass range (<700 Da). Recent advances in surface science have facilitated the development of matrix-free laser desorption/ionization MS approaches, which are referred to here as surface-assisted laser desorption/ionization (SALDI) MS. In contrast to traditional matrix-assisted techniques, the materials used for SALDI-MS are not ionized, which expands the usefulness of this technique to small-molecule analyses. This review discusses the current status of SALDI-MS as a standard analytical technique, with an emphasis on potential applications in proteomics.