I was working through a previous exam and came across the following question (with reference to the picture shown below):

"What MS ionization method was employed (MALDI or ESI)?"

I cannot seem to find the answer, so I'm guessing it is not possible to tell, but if there is a way to see which one was used, please enlighten me.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ It is probably ESI because, as already mentioned, ESI produces multiply charged precursors while Maldi would generally produce fewer charge states and +1 most frequently. But, you can not say that MALDI wont give multiply charged ions. So from just this picture you can not say for certain but can only make a guess. $\endgroup$
    – ktyagi
    Feb 18, 2016 at 10:53

1 Answer 1


I am not an expert in this topic but from what I have heard ESI generates multiply charged ions but MALDI usually does't. It is possible to find multiply charged species in the spectrum.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ They all have a charge of four it seems to me? (Assume one Da mass difference, and then divide by .25, the m/z difference.) Is that how you are able to tell it comes from ESI, namely that they have a charge of four, not one? If you confirm I will upvote and accept your answer. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2014 at 7:01
  • $\begingroup$ I was not actually looking at the spectrum that you attached.. I answered that in general ESi produces multiply charged ions. But when you commented, I noticed the spectrum and it seems that these are +4 charged ions of different molecules/peptides. Nothing else fits that neatly $\endgroup$
    May 1, 2014 at 8:45
  • $\begingroup$ This is the isotopic cluster of an ion, so chemically it should be of one kind of molecule/peptide and not multiple. Yes the analyte is in a charge state of 4, so most likely it would come from a an ESI. $\endgroup$
    – ktyagi
    Aug 11, 2016 at 8:04

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