Anal Chem 2018 11 1;90(22):13427-13433. Epub 2018 Nov 1.
Surface layer matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry imaging (SL-MALDI-MSI) is a powerful new surface sensitive imaging technique to establish surface component localization of multicomponent polymer materials. This study demonstrates the ability of SL-MALDI-MSI to image defects from foreign materials, material absence, mechanical scribing, and solvent perturbation at the surface of low-molecular-weight poly(methyl methacrylate) and polystyrene thin films. The surface specificity of the SL-MALDI-MSI technique is validated by imaging polystyrene on poly(methyl methacrylate) bilayer films; only polystyrene ions are detected from the surface of the unperturbed polystyrene layer. A key process enabling SL-MALDI-MSI is the solvent-free sublimation of matrix and salt uniformly on the sample's surface.