Visualizing molecular distributions for biomaterials applications with mass spectrometry imaging: a review
Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) is a rapidly emerging field that is continually finding applications in new and exciting areas. The ability of MSI to measure the spatial distribution of molecules at or near the surface of complex substrates makes it an ideal candidate for many applications, including those in the sphere of materials chemistry. Continual development and optimization of both ionization sources and analyzer technologies have resulted in a wide array of MSI tools available, both commercially available and custom-built, with each configuration possessing inherent strengths and limitations. Despite the unique potential of MSI over other chemical imaging methods, their potential and application to (bio)materials science remains in our view a largely underexplored avenue. This review will discuss these techniques enabling high parallel molecular detection, focusing on those with reported uses in (bio)materials chemistry applications and highlighted with select applications. Different technologies are presented in three main sections; secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) imaging, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) MSI, and emerging MSI technologies with potential for biomaterial analysis. The first two sections (SIMS and MALDI) discuss well-established methods that are continually evolving both in technological advancements and in experimental versatility. In the third section, relatively new and versatile technologies capable of performing measurements under ambient conditions will be introduced, with reported applications in materials chemistry or potential applications discussed. The aim of this review is to provide a concise resource for those interested in utilizing MSI for applications such as biomimetic materials, biological/synthetic material interfaces, polymer formulation and bulk property characterization, as well as the spatial and chemical distributions of nanoparticles, or any other molecular imaging application requiring broad chemical speciation.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Review Articles