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Determining Surface Energy of Porous Substrates by Spray Ionization

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posted on 2019-10-16, 19:14 authored by Deidre E. Damon, Yosef S. Maher, Danyelle M. Allen, Jill Baker, Boyce S. Chang, Simon Maher, Martin M. Thuo, Abraham K. Badu-Tawiah
We have developed a new spray-based method for characterizing surface energies of planar, porous substrates. Distinct spray modes (electrospray versus electrostatic spray), from the porous substrates, occur in the presence of an applied DC potential after wetting with solvents of different surface tension. The ion current resulting from the spray process is maximized when the surface energy of the porous substrate approaches the surface tension of the wetting solvent. By monitoring the selected ion current (e.g., benzoylecgonine, m/z 290 → 168) with a mass spectrometer or the total ion current with an ammeter, we determined the solvent surface tension yielding the maximum ion current to indicate the surface energy of the solid. Detailed evaluations using polymeric substrates of known surface energies enabled effective calibration of the approach that resulted in the correct estimation of the surface energy of hydrophobic paper substrates prepared by gas-phase silanization. A three-parameter empirical model suggests that the experimentally observed ion current profile is governed by differential partitioning of analyte controlled by the interfacial forces between the wetting solvent and the porous substrate.