U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2017, 31, 1204–1210, DOI: 10.1002/rcm.7894


U.S. government work.


RATIONALE: As the spatial resolution of mass spectrometry imaging technologies has begun to reach into the nanometer regime, finding readily available or easily made resolution reference materials has become particularly challenging for molecular imaging purposes. This paper describes the fabrication, characterization and use of vertical line array polymeric spatial resolution test patterns for nano‐thermal analysis/atomic force microscopy/mass spectrometry chemical imaging.

METHODS: Test patterns of varied line width (0.7 or 1.0 μm) and spacing (0.7 or 1.0 μm) were created in an ~1‐μm‐thick poly(methyl methacrylate) thin film using electron beam lithography. The patterns were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, energy‐dispersive X‐ray spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy topography and nano‐thermal analysis/mass spectrometry imaging.

RESULTS: The efficacy of these polymeric test patterns for the advancement of chemical imaging techniques was illustrated by their use to judge the spatial resolution improvement achieved by heating the ionization interface of the current instrument platform. The spatial resolution of the mass spectral chemical images was estimated to be 1.4 μm, based on the ability to statistically distinguish 0.7‐μm‐wide lines separated by 0.7‐μm‐wide spacings in those images when the interface cross was heated to 200°C.

CONCLUSIONS: This work illustrates that e‐beam lithography is a viable method to create spatial resolution test patterns in a thin film of high molecular weight polymer to allow unbiased judgment of intra‐laboratory advancement and/or inter‐laboratory comparison of instrument advances in nano‐thermal analysis/atomic force microscopy/mass spectrometry chemical imaging.