Relative Importance of Basicity in the Gas Phase and in Solution for Determining Selectivity in Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nadja B. Cech, Patricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry is a critically important technique for the determination of small molecules, but its application for this purpose is complicated by its selectivity. For positive ion ESI-MS analysis of basic analytes, several investigators have pointed to the importance of analyte basicity as a source of selectivity. Currently, however, it is not known whether basicity in the gas phase or in solution is ultimately most important in determining responsiveness. The objective of these studies was to investigate the relative importance of basicity in solution and in the gas phase as factors that predict selectivity in positive ion ESI-MS analysis. ESI-MS response was compared for a diverse series of protonatable analytes in two different solvents, neat methanol and methanol with 0.5% acetic acid. A correlation was observed between analyte pKb and electrospray response. However, the response for the analytes with very high pKb values was significantly higher than would be expected based on concentration of the protonated form or the analyte in solution, and this higher response did not appear to result from gas-phase proton transfer reactions. Although all of the analytes investigated had higher gas-phase basicities than the solvent, their relative responses were not dictated by gas-phase basicity. Higher response was observed for all of the analytes studied in acidified methanol compared with neat methanol, and this higher response was most pronounced for weakly basic analytes. These findings support the use of analyte pKb for rational method development in ESI-MS analysis of small molecules.

Additional Information

Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 19(5), 719-728
Language: English
Date: 2008
mass spectrometry, electrospray, analytes

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