Mesoporous silica is shown to be a sample holder for laser desorption/ionization of mass spectrometry. Supported mesoporous silica was prepared by coating an ethanolic silicate solution having a removable surfactant onto a substrate to produce a self-assembled, ordered, nanocomposite silica thin film. The surfactant was chosen to provide a desired pore size between about 1 nanometer diameter and 50 nanometers diameter. Removal of the surfactant resulted in a mesoporous silica thin film on the substrate. Samples having a molecular weight below 1000, such as C.sub.60 and tryptophan, were adsorbed onto and into the mesoporous silica thin film sample holder and analyzed using laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL RIGHTS
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.