Characterization of atmospheric-pressure spark generated atomic silver and gold clusters by time-of-flight mass spectrometry

A. Maisser*, K. Barmpounis, S. Holm, M. Attoui, A. Schmidt-Ott, J. Kangasluoma, G. Biskos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The potential of using atmospheric-pressure spark ablation for production of atomic clusters has been shown in the recent past. In this study we used this method to produce atomic clusters in Argon and investigated their chemical composition with an atmospheric pressure interface time-of-flight mass spectrometer (APi-TOF-MS). Both anionic and cationic silver and gold clusters were generated and characterised. The carrier gas was used directly from the gas cylinder without the application of any additional gas purification. As a result, the carrier gas stream contained trace impurities of N2, O2, and H2O, as well as radicals such as O, OH, and H and their ionized forms resulting from the plasma created by the sparks. The experimental results show that different reactivities towards oxygen and water traces can be observed depending on the number of metal atoms in the clusters, their polarity, as well as their compositions; e.g., Aun shows less reactive behaviour towards oxygen and hydrogen compared to Agn. The results also show that certain cluster types can be generated at large enough quantities by atmospheric-pressure spark ablation, which considering the low installation and operating cost of the technique can pave the way towards its exploitation for numerous technological applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105780
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Aerosol Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Atomic clusters
  • Cluster ions
  • Gold clusters
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Silver clusters
  • Spark discharge


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