Influence of molecular environment on the analysis of phospholipids by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry

Audra G. Sostarecz, Donald M. Cannon, Carolyn M. McQuaw, Shixin Sun, Andrew G. Ewing, Nicholas Winograd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Understanding the influence of molecular environment on phospholipids is important in time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) studies of complex systems such as cellular membranes. Varying the molecular environment of model membrane Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films is shown to affect the TQF-SIMS signal of the phospholipids in the films. The molecular environment of a LB film of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) is changed by varying the film density, varying the sample substrate, and the addition of cholesterol. An increase in film density results in a decrease in the headgroup fragment ion signal at a mass-to-charge ratio of 184 (phosphocholine). Varying the sample substrate increases the secondary ion yield of phosphocholine as does the addition of proton-donating molecules such as cholesterol to the DPPC LB film. Switching from a model system of DPPC and cholesterol to one of dipalmitoylphos-phatidylethanolamine (DPPE) and cholesterol demonstrates the ability of cholesterol to also mask the phospholipid headgroup ion signal. TOF-SIMS studies of simplistic phospholipid LB model membrane systems demonstrate the potential use of these systems in TOF-SIMS analysis of cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4926-4932
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 8 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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