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Tailored silicon nanopost arrays (NAPA) enable controlled and resonant ion production in laser desorption ionization experiments and have been termed nanophotonic ion sources (Walker et al., J. Phys. Chem. C, 2010, 114, 4835–4840). As the post dimensions are comparable to or smaller than the laser wavelength, near-field effects and localized electromagnetic fields are present in their vicinity. In this contribution, we explore the desorption and ionization mechanism by studying how surface derivatization affects ion yields and fragmentation. We demonstrate that by increasing the laser fluence on derivatized NAPA with less polar surfaces that have decreased interaction energy between the structured silicon substrate and the adsorbate, the spectrum changes from exhibiting primarily molecular ions to showing a growing variety and abundance of fragments. The polarization angle of the laser beam had been shown to dramatically affect the ion yields of adsorbates. For the first time, we report that by rotating the plane of polarization of the desorption laser, the internal energy of the adsorbate can also be modulated resulting in polarization dependent fragmentation. This polarization effect also resulted in selective fragmentation of vitamin B12. To explore the internal energy of NAPA generated ions, the effect of the post aspect ratios on the laser desorption thresholds and on the internal energy of a preformed ion was studied. Elevated surface temperatures and enhanced near fields in the vicinity of high aspect ratio posts are thought to contribute to desorption and ionization from NAPA. Comparison of the fluence dependence of the internal energies of ions produced from nanoporous silicon and NAPA substrates indicates that surface restructuring or transient melting by the desorption laser is a prerequisite for the former but not for the latter.