A simple mathematical technique for improving mass calibration accuracy of linear delayed extraction matrix assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (DE MALDI-TOF MS) spectra is presented. The method involves fitting a parabola to a plot of Dm vs. mass data where Dm is the difference between the theoretical mass of calibrants and the mass obtained from a linear relationship between the square root of m/z and ion time of flight. The quadratic equation that describes the parabola is then used to correct the mass of unknowns by subtracting the deviation predicted by the quadratic equation from measured data. By subtracting the value of the parabola at each mass from the calibrated data, the accuracy of mass data points can be improved by factors of 10 or more. This method produces highly similar results whether or not initial ion velocity is accounted for in the calibration equation; consequently, there is no need to depend on that uncertain parameter when using the quadratic correction. This method can be used to correct the internally calibrated masses of protein digest peaks. The effect of nitrocellulose as a matrix additive is also briefly discussed, and it is shown that using nitrocellulose as an additive to aCHCA matrix does not significantly change initial ion velocity but does change the average position of ions relative to the sample electrode at the instant the extraction voltage is applied.

This study explores the capabilities of the Coherent X-ray Imaging Instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source to image small biological samples. The weak signal from small samples puts a significant demand on the experiment. Aerosolized Omono River virus particles of ∼40 nm in diameter were injected into the submicrometre X-ray focus at a reduced pressure. Diffraction patterns were recorded on two area detectors. The statistical nature of the measurements from many individual particles provided information about the intensity profile of the X-ray beam, phase variations in the wavefront and the size distribution of the injected particles. The results point to a wider than expected size distribution (from ∼35 to ∼300 nm in diameter). This is likely to be owing to nonvolatile contaminants from larger droplets during aerosolization and droplet evaporation. The results suggest that the concentration of nonvolatile contaminants and the ratio between the volumes of the initial droplet and the sample particles is critical in such studies. The maximum beam intensity in the focus was found to be 1.9 × 1012 photons per µm2 per pulse. The full-width of the focus at half-maximum was estimated to be 500 nm (assuming 20% beamline transmission), and this width is larger than expected. Under these conditions, the diffraction signal from a sample-sized particle remained above the average background to a resolution of 4.25 nm. The results suggest that reducing the size of the initial droplets during aerosolization is necessary to bring small particles into the scope of detailed structural studies with X-ray lasers.