Ion Sources

Ion Sources

Ion Sources

In mass spectrometry, the performance of the MS system in terms of mass resolution, mass accuracy and principally sensitivity, is highly dependent on the method of ion generation. There is no single ion source for all applications; polar and non-polar, big and small molecules require specific ionization techniques.

Numerous ion sources have been developed especially for LC/MS systems to meet the diverse requirements of every potential application. Bruker Daltonics offers the widest variety of ion sources; each with special features and some of them truly unique.

CaptiveSpray nanoBooster


The key to performance and reliability for nano flow MS
The Bruker CaptiveSpray principle: Stable and robust nanoflow LC/MS is still a challenge in proteomics analysis. The Bruker CaptiveSpray source is a revolutionary ion source with a patented design that provides easy operation just as simple as the normal flow electrospray. 

CaptiveSpray delivers nanospray sensitivity, resists plugging, and provides reproducible, uninterrupted flow for even the most complex proteomics samples. 

The CaptiveSpray source mounts directly onto all current Bruker API mass spectrometers. The Ion Transfer Interface connects directly to the front of the capillary, eliminating the need for complex XYZ adjustable stages.

Bruker's revolutionary CaptiveSpray source is now available with a smart dopant addition option—the nanoBooster
CaptiveSpray nanoBooster brings your MS to the next performance level and provides even higher flexibility.

  • Boosts nanoflow sensitivity
  • Pushes up ID rates
  • Enables Glycoanalysis
  • Supercharges capability

Technical Details

Ease of Use
CaptiveSpray provides a vortex gas that sweeps around the emitter spray tip to desolvate and focus the Taylor cone into the MS inlet capillary. The vacuum seal to the MS ion guide draws all of the sample ions into the MS increasing the efficiency of sample transfer from the spray tip into the mass spectrometer. The direct connection to the inlet capillary eliminates the need for any source adjustment making the CaptiveSpray source truly Plug-and-Play.

Smart Ionization Support by Dopant-enriched Gas Supply
The nanoBooster option allows the modification and vapor enrichment of gas that flows around the emitter. Dependent on the used dopant, either charge stripping or charge enhancement of peptides and proteins can be achieved during the ionization process. Charge enhancement is advantageous for the analysis of large biomolecules due to the reduction of the mass-to-charge (m/z) ratio. Furthermore, higher charge stages increase efficiency of electron transfer dissociation (ETD) MS/MS.


The enrichment of the nanoBooster sheath gas with acetonitrile results in improvement of glycopeptide analyzation. The charge state increase provides higher quality ETD spectra and enables highly improved glycopeptide characterization by assignment and identification of the glycosylation sites.

Supercharging in Gas Phase
The gas supply is software-controlled. The user can define the dopant enrichment and charge effect. CaptiveSpray nanoBooster provides the capability of post-column charging of peptides without the need to add buffers to the HPLC solvents and thus without influencing the chromatographic performance.

ID Rates
CaptiveSpray nanoBooster increases the ionization efficiency of peptides significantly, leading to a much higher sensitivity than even conventional nanospray. 

This results in a highly improved number of identified proteins in complex mixtures.



The sensitivity of the system is extremely important in most MS analytical tasks. Compared to standard electrospray, the ionBooster offers a 5–100x gain in sensitivity for many compounds of interest in the fields of environmental analysis, food testing and therapeutic drug monitoring. The ionBooster enhances sensitivity and lowers detection limits by increasing ionization efficiency in a wide range of applications. 

The ionBooster can be used with the latest Bruker amaZon speed, maXis, maXis impact or solariX MS systems, and is quickly and easily installed. For a wide range of compounds, the ionBooster achieves sensitivities that rival those of industry-leading QQQs, while still providing the known benefits of MSn or accurate mass values with TIP™ (True Isotopic Pattern). The ionBooster has simple operating parameters and nitrogen consumption requirements that are similar to those of conventional sources.

Technical Details

The ion source enhances sensitivity and lowers detection limits by delivering more efficient ionization across a wide range of applications. Inside the ionBooster, an electrospray is maintained at a controlled vaporizing temperature to enable enhanced desolvation of the analyte ions, even at high eluent flow rates in UHPLC

separations with sharp chromatographic peaks. 

The exact response with the ionBooster depends upon the type of compound and its specific chemical characteristics and thermal properties.


ionBooster in Forensics
Ethyl-Glucuronids (EtG and EtS) are markers for alcohol misuse. The ionBooster source yields a sensitivity improvement of factor 10 for EtG, compared to a standard ESI source. For details, please refer to application note ET-28.

ionBooster in Food Safety
Extremely sensitive analytical methods are required for accurate low-level identification, and quantitation of zero-tolerance compounds in food. The broad-spectrum antibiotic Chloramphenicol (CAP) is such a compound. Determination of CAP is often performed by LC-MS/MS using MRM measurements on traditional triple-quadrupole instruments. Using the ionBooster, CAP can be determined in an

LC-MS full scan method for lower limit quantification and confirmation on a maXis  UHR-TOF system, without compromising other analytical information. 

The ionBooster achieves a Limit of Quantitation (LOQ) more than 100 times lower than the minimum required performance level (MRPL). 

Top: Compare Chloramphenicol signal trace of ionBooster with traditional Electrospray at 0.25 μg/kg in matrix (CAP in beef muscle). 

Bottom: Six replicate injections, at 0.0025 μg/kg CAP in matrix meat. Mean Signal: Noise 10:1, Peak width 3.4 sec (FWHM), Peak area RSD 9%. Figures from Application Note ET-27.



Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) is used for less polar molecules where ESI fails to deliver reasonable quantities of ions. In contrast to ESI, it produces mainly singly-charged ions.

APCI is only limited in the case of thermally unstable compounds, since evaporation of the solvent is done by heating the sample in the nebulizer needle. APCI is often used for metabolomics as well as for drug or pesticide screening.

The new Bruker APCI II source is off course compatible to Bruker's unique DirectProbe option DIP. The direct injection probe is a novel smart solid sample introduction technique allowing a rapid analysis of solids. Sample preparation is as simple as dipping a disposable glass capillary into the solid sample.

Technical Details

Unambiguos identification synthetic compound
This example shows the unambiguos identification of a synthetic compound using the autoMSn capability of an amaZon SL ion trap system. During the vaporization of solid (refer to TIC insert) data-dependent MS2 and MS3 spectra are taken. Note that after a simple neutral loss in MS2, MS3 provides rich structural information. Samples were kindly provided by SiChem GmbH, Bremen, Germany.



Atmospheric pressure photo ionization (APPI) is used for less polar or non-polar molecules that can not be ionized in either ESI or APCI.
APPI delivers a wide dynamic range and low chemical noise. With an operational flow range of 2µl/min – 1500µL/min it is compatible with cap- to analytical chromatography.
APPI II by Bruker Daltonics is the only APPI source with DirectProbe option for direct analysis of solid samples. The direct injection probe is a novel smart solid sample introduction technique allowing a rapid analysis of solids. 
Sample preparation is as simple as dipping a disposable glass capillary into the solid sample.


APPI with DIP in Crude oil analysis
The example shows the results of a quick manual QC and Comparison of petroleum cuts with an amaZon SL.



The DirectProbe (DIP) add-on for the Bruker APCI II and APPI II ion sources allows direct analysis of liquid and solid samples without tedious sample preparation. In routine organic synthesis analyses, it simplifies identification and characterization of chemical reaction products without compromising sensitivity.
  • Extremely sensitive down to the sub-ng range of pure substance - amount not visible at all !
  • Minimum sample preparation
  • Direct analysis of liquid & solid samples
  • Short analysis time
  • No memory due to single-use glass tubes


Fields of applications are

  • General Chemistry → Synthesis control
  • Manual quality control of solids (Pharma, oil, explosives)
  • Customs → Drugs of abuse, explosives
  • Homeland security
  • Environmental
  • Thermal degradation processes (plastic production)
  • Classical routine analysis (e.g. confirmation of sum formula)

Direct injection Probe with APCI for ID synthetic compounds
This example shows the unambiguos identification of a synthetic compound using the autoMSn capability of an amaZon SL ion trap system. During the vaporization of solid (refer to TIC insert) data-dependent MS2 and MS3 spectra are taken. Note that after a simple neutral loss in MS2, MS3 provides rich structural information. Samples were kindly provided by SiChem GmbH, Bremen, Germany.

Direct injection Probe with APPI for QC in Production
The example shows the results of a quick manual QC and Comparison of petroleum cuts with an amaZon SL. The three candidates gas oil vacuum gas oil and vacuum residue are clearly distinguishable without any sample preparation and no memory-effect due to single use sample tubes.

GC-APCI Source


GC-APCI II Source Ultra-High Resolution TOF-MS on GC
Todays analytical chemistry often presents complex mixtures of compounds which are not available in libraries and data bases. Identification of such components can be easily performed with Bruker's ultra-high resolution TOF systems designed for LC or GC use. 

With its second generation GC-APCI source, Bruker offers the greatest flexibility and highest performance with a combined GC frontend and high-resolution MS system for confident ID of unknown compounds using complementary MS technology. The GC-APCI II interface can be coupled to any Bruker MS system with the common Apollo II source design. 

GC-APCI II is designed to connect to state-of-the-art GC systems including Bruker's 436-GC and 456-GC but can also be used with third party GC systems. The flexible, heated transfer line, automatic MS calibration and outstanding sensitivity make GC-APCI II the best solution for unknown ID in metabolomics and small molecule research.

Technical Details

GC-APCI II Ion Source

Making a dedicated and expensive GC-TOF-MS used infrequently for just a few samples a thing of the past.
The GC-APCI II source enables GC coupling to any Bruker TOF or QTOF, trap or FTMS system originally designed for LC coupling.

Switching of the sources without venting the vacuum The system has the capability to be easily switched from GC to LC and vice versa without tools and within minutes. There is no need to vent the MS vacuum.

Greater Flexibility
The design of the flexible heated transfer line means that the GC and MS must no longer be precisely aligned. Interfacing the GC and MS is simpler, giving more options in positioning the MS and GC while preserving the obtained GC separation.

Automatic MS Calibration
The unique calibrant reservoir of the GC-APCI II interface enables software-controlled calibrant delivery.

Improved LLOQ
The optimized ionization chamber provides improved GC-MS performance including lower background and higher sensitivity.


Applications GC-APII Sourcs
Unknown ID in Metabolomics
GC-MS is one of the few standard techniques in metabolomic analysis. In recent years the combination of gas chromatography and Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization (APCI) with high resolution mass spectrometry techniques has proven to be an important additional tool for the analysis of highly complex mixtures of natural products from plants and body fluids. While standard GC-EI-MS is based on the availability of mass spectral libraries, GC-APCI allows the assignment and identification of unknown metabolites. GC-APCI II has arrived with improved performance, lower background and higher sensitivity; opening a new dimension in the analysis of metabolomic samples. 

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) are ubiquitous in the environment and many of them are considered to be carcinogenic. The analysis of these compounds at low concentrations is therefore an important task in environmental and food analysis.

Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization (APCI) in combination with high resolution mass spectrometry techniques opens a new dimension in terms of sensitivity. APCI can be used in combination with GC and LC separation to cover the whole range of PAHs.


Forensic Analysis
The broad applicability of Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization (APCI) mass spectrometry enhances the analysis of forensic samples. The combination of GC-APCI II with a high resolution TOF mass spectrometer enables confident verification in drug analysis and additionally supports the identification of street drug additives and pain killers as well as drug degradation products. 

Pesticide Analysis
Pesticide analysis is an analytical challenge in environmental chemistry and in food control. Compared to traditional MRM monitoring the GC-APCI II source connected to a high resolution TOF provides new insights into pesticide analysis; combining broad band screening analysis with selective and sensitive detection of target analytes. GC-APCI II assists in finding new compounds and identifying unknowns in your samples.

Service & Support

Service & Support

Bruker Daltonics services are performed by factory trained and certified engineers. DIN EN ISO 9001:2000 requirements are fulfilled. 

Available services include:

  • Help desk service for a faster access to our support team, to your service order follow up and for general information
  • Planned maintenance, according to our requirement
  • Telephone support from highly-skilled troubleshooting professionals, to isolate and resolve hard- and software problems
  • Web-based remote instrument service for service diagnosis and applications support
  • Customer on-site repair and maintenance service 
  • Spare parts availability typically over night or within a few working days worldwide
  • Compliance services for installation qualification, operational qualification / performance verification
  • Site planning and relocation
  • Advise to improve labs efficiency (consumable, method development & how to run the complete solution)


For Research Use Only. Not for use in clinical diagnostic procedures.