Melting proteins confined in nanodroplets with 10.6 m light provides clues about early steps of denaturation.
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Ubiquitin confined within nanodroplets was irradiated with a variable-power CO2 laser. Mass spectrometry analysis shows evidence for a protein "melting"-like transition within droplets prior to solvent evaporation and ion formation. Ion mobility spectrometry reveals that structures associated with early steps of denaturation are trapped because of short droplet lifetimes.