The volatilization of complex molecules requires a lot of energy, which may destroy the molecules before they desorb. This is why evaporating peptides, proteins and DNA is almost as hard as launching an egg by boiling it.
However, pulsed desorption using nanosecond laser pulses in the mJ energy range allow us to heat the molecules at the enormous rate of up to 1011 K/s. This is high enough to desorb intact single neutral amino acids, nucleotides or polypeptides.
At QNP, and in collaboration with our colleagues at the University of Basel, we are exploring the mass and complexity limit of desorpbing neutral polypeptides and proteins in high vacuum. The verification of intact volatilization is based on VUV postionization and other means mass spectrometry.