Rapid communications in mass spectrometry : RCM

The formation of [M-H]+ ions in N-alkyl-substituted thieno[3,4-c]-pyrrole-4,6-dione derivatives during atmospheric pressure photoionization mass spectrometry.

PMID 25303467


The formation of ions during atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI) mass spectrometry in the positive mode usually provides radical cations and/or protonated species. Intriguingly, during the analysis of some N-alkyl-substituted thieno[3,4-c]pyrrole-4,6-dione (TPD) derivatives synthesized in our laboratory, unusual [M-H](+) ion peaks were observed. In this work we investigate the formation of [M-H](+) ions observed under APPI conditions. Multiple experimental parameters, including the type of ionization source, the composition of the solvent, the type of dopant, the infusion flow rate, and the length of the alkyl side chain were investigated to determine their effects on the formation of [M-H](+) ions. In addition, a comparison study of the gas-phase tandem mass spectrometric (MS/MS) fragmentation of [M + H](+) vs [M-H](+) ions and computational approaches were used. [M-H](+) ions were observed under APPI conditions. The type of dopant and the length of the alkyl chain affected the formation of these ions. MS/MS fragmentation of [M-H](+) and [M + H](+) ions exhibited completely different patterns. Theoretical calculations revealed that the loss of hydrogen molecules from the [M + H](+) ions is the most favourable condition under which to form [M-H](+) ions. [M-H](+) ions were detected in all the TPD derivatives studied here under the special experimental conditions during APPI, using a halogenated benzene dopant, and TPD containing substituted N-alkyl side chains with a minimum of four carbon atoms. Density functional theory calculations showed that for [M-H](+) ions to be formed under these conditions, the loss of hydrogen molecules from the [M + H](+)  ions is proposed to be necessary.