We describe an ion source for the efficient preparation of cold ion-molecule complexes, XM. The method relies on condensation of solvent molecules, M, onto argon-solvated ions, X⋅Arm, where the X⋅Arm species are formed in a primary expansion and the molecular partner, M, is interfaced to this flow in the hydrodynamic region by supersonic entrainment. This hybrid “supersonic afterglow” reactor provides a clean synthetic approach for both bare and argon-solvated complexes, where the latter are particularly useful since their structures can be characterized by “nanomatrix” infrared predissociation spectroscopy.

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