Direct coupling of a free-flow isotachophoresis (FFITP) device with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS)
We present the online coupling of a free-flow isotachophoresis (FFITP) device to an electrospray ionization mass spectrometer (ESI-MS) for continuous analysis without extensive sample preparation. Free-flow-electrophoresis techniques are used for continuous electrophoretic separations using an electric field applied perpendicular to the buffer and sample flow, with FFITP using a discontinuous electrolyte system to concurrently focus a target analyte and remove interferences. The online coupling of FFITP to ESI-MS decouples the separation and detection timeframe because the electrophoretic separation takes place perpendicular to the flow direction, which can be beneficial for monitoring (bio)chemical changes and/or extensive MSn studies. We demonstrated the coupling of FFITP with ESI-MS for simultaneous concentration of target analytes and sample clean-up. Furthermore, we show hydrodynamic control of the fluidic fraction injected into the MS, allowing for fluidically controlled scanning of the ITP window. Future applications of this approach are expected in monitoring biochemical changes and proteomics.