Areas of Application

We developed an innovative way of variable ionisation using atmospheric plasma for mass spectrometry (MS), Ion-mobility spectrometry (IMS) and plasma medicine (PM). Our Vario-Plasma can be adapted for a wide range of applications:

  • Parallel ionisation of polar and unpolar analytes in MS and IMS
  • Ionisation of gaseous analytes for MS and IMS
  • High-sensitive elemental ionisation for element analysis
  • Development of fragmentation techniques of proteins for peptide generation in MS applications 
  • Development of treatments in plasma medicine

The Technology

Our Vario-plasma is generated under ambient pressure and can be miniaturised and used for applications in MS, IMS and PM. The plasma is generated by  dielectric barrier discharges in noble gases or air. Depending on the area of use the intensity of the plasma can be modulated to fit the needs of the applications. Moreover, we developed a way to direct the plasma through flexible plastic tubes. This allows us to bring the plasma directly to the inlet of a MS, IMS and be more flexible in PM approaches. 


Cold or non-thermal plasmas are already used due to their antimicrobial properties for the treatment of food and other fragile surfaces and gain importance in medical uses. The development of non-thermal plasmas as ionisation sources for MS and IMS applications is a novel approach to overcome limitations of current ionisation techniques as MALDI, ESI or APCI.

Developmental stage

Several prototypes are available and currently used in application based research projects. Applications in all the fields of use (MS, IMS and PM) have already been successfully tested and can be developed to commercial use. 


Compared to already available ionisation techniques our Vario-Plasma grants several advantages in Mass spectrometry Ion-mobility spectrometry and plasma medicine:

  • Direct ionisation of unpolar molecules like perfluorinated carbons
  • Generation of positive and negative charged ions
  • Variable ionisation, fragmentation and dissociation of samples
  • Adaptable for liquid and gaseous samples
  • easy and cost-efficient in production
  • can be generated in flexible plastic tubes no risk of electrical discharges at the application area

Intelectual property rights

Granted: DE102016104852

Application: PCT/EP2017/055857, DE102017112726


Klute, D, Brandt, S, Vogel, P, Biskup, B, Reininger, C, Horvatic, V, Vadla, C, Farnsworth, PB & Franzke, J 2017, 'Systematic Comparison between Half and Full Dielectric Barrier Discharges Based on the Low Temperature Plasma Probe (LTP) and Dielectric Barrier Discharge for Soft Ionization (DBDI) Configurations' Analytical Chemistry, Bd 89, Nr. 17, S. 9368-9374.

Schütz, A, Klute, D, Brandt, S, Liedtke, S, Jestel, G & Franzke, J 2016, 'Tuning Soft Ionization Strength for Organic Mass Spectrometry' Analytical Chemistry, Bd 88, Nr. 10, S. 5538-5541.

Klute, D, Michels, A, Schütz, A, Vadla, C, Horvatic, V & Franzke, J 2016, 'Capillary Dielectric Barrier Discharge: Transition from Soft Ionization to Dissociative Plasma' Analytical Chemistry, Bd 88, Nr. 9, S. 4701-4705.

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