Paper spray ionization (PSI) is an extractive ambient ionization technique for mass spectrometry (MS), whereby a triangular paper tip serves as the sampling base and the electrospray tip. During PSI, analytes are extracted and transported to the edge of the paper tip by the applied spraying solvent. Analytes can be purified from a sample matrix and separated from each other by this transportation process. In this study, we investigated and utilized the analyte transportation process of PSI for the in situ separation and analysis of lipid mixtures. We found that differential transport of phosphatidylcholine (PC) and triacylglycerol (TAG), the two most abundant lipid classes in animals, occurred during PSI. We also found that the order in which these lipids moved strongly depended on how the spraying solvent was applied to the paper base. The more polar PC moved faster than the less polar TAG during PSI, when a polar solvent was slowly fed into a paper tip, whereas TAG was transported faster than PC when excess solvent was applied to the tip at once. In addition, we achieved a complete separation and detection of PC and TAG by slowly supplying a nonpolar solvent to a PSI tip.
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