, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1707-1717
Date: 07 Jul 2011

Evidence of Molecular Fragmentation inside the Charged Droplets Produced by Electrospray Process


The behavior of the analyte molecules inside the neutral core of the charged droplet produced by the electrospray (ES) process is not unambiguously known to date. We have identified interesting molecular transformations of two suitably chosen analytes inside the ES droplets. The highly stable Ni(II) complex of 1,8-dimethyl-1,3,6,8,10,13-hexaazacyclotetradecane (1) that consists of a positive charge at the metal center, and the allyl pendant armed tertiary amine containing macrocycle 3,4,5:12,13,14-dipyridine-2,6,11,15-tetramethyl-1,7,10,16-tetraallyl-1,4,7,10,13,16-hexaazacyclooctadeca-3,13-diene (M 4p ) have been studied by ESI mass spectrometry as the model analytes. We have shown that these two molecules are not representatively transferred from solution to gas phase by ESI; rather, they undergo fragmentation inside the charged droplets. The results indicated that a charged analyte such as 1 was possibly unstable inside the neutral core of the ES droplet and undergoes fragmentation due to the Coulombic repulsion imparted by the surface protons. Brownian motion of the neutral analyte such as M 4p inside the droplet, on the other hand, may lead to proton attachment on interaction with the charged surface causing destabilization that leads to fragmentation of M 4p and release of resonance stabilized allyl cations from the core of the droplet. Detailed solvent dependence and collision-induced dissociation (CID) studies provided compelling evidences that the fragmentation of the analytes indeed occurs inside the charged ES droplets. A viable model of molecular transformations inside the ES droplet was proposed based on these results to rationalize the behavior of the analyte molecules inside the charged ES droplets.

Address reprint requests to Shyamalava Mazumdar, Department of Chemical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha Road, Colaba, Mumbai 400005, India; e-mail: shyamal@tifr.res.in, Web: http://www.tifr.res.in/~shyamal/