An experimental system, based upon UV and IR laser desorption, has been constructed to enable the production and characterization of neutral biomolecular targets. These targets are to be used for interaction experiments investigating radiation-induced damage to DNA. The viability of the laser-desorption techniques of MALDI (matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization), SALDI (surface-assisted laser-desorption ionization) and DIOS (desorption/ionization on silicon), for production of these gas targets is discussed in the present paper. Fluorescent dye tagging and LIF (laser-induced fluorescence) imaging has been used to characterize the biomolecular plumes, revealing their spatial density profiles and temporal evolution.

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