High throughput reaction screening using desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry†
We report the high throughput analysis of reaction mixture arrays using methods and data handling routines that were originally developed for biological tissue imaging. Desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry (MS) is applied in a continuous on-line process at rates that approach 104 reactions per h at area densities of up to 1 spot per mm2 (6144 spots per standard microtiter plate) with the sprayer moving at ca. 104 microns per s. Data are analyzed automatically by MS using in-house software to create ion images of selected reagents and products as intensity plots in standard array format. Amine alkylation reactions were used to optimize the system performance on PTFE membrane substrates using methanol as the DESI spray/analysis solvent. Reaction times can be <100 μs when reaction acceleration occurs in microdroplets, enabling the rapid screening of processes like N-alkylation and Suzuki coupling reactions as reported herein. Products and by-products were confirmed by on-line MS/MS upon rescanning of the array.