Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

, Volume 14, Issue 12, pp 1348–1359

A model for energy transfer in inelastic molecular collisions applicable at steady state or non-steady state and for an arbitrary distribution of collision energies


    • II. Physikalisches InstitutJustus-Liebig-Universität Giessen
  • R. Graham Cooks
    • II. Physikalisches InstitutJustus-Liebig-Universität Giessen
Focus: Ion Activation

DOI: 10.1016/j.jasms.2003.08.012

Cite this article as:
Plass, W.R. & Cooks, R.G. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom (2003) 14: 1348. doi:10.1016/j.jasms.2003.08.012


A new model for energy exchange between translational and internal degrees of freedom in atom-molecule collisions has been developed. It is suitable for both steady state conditions (e.g., a large number of collisions with thermal kinetic energies) and non-steady state conditions with an arbitrary distribution of collision energies (e.g., single high-energy collisions). In particular, it does not require that the collision energies be characterized by a quasi-thermal distribution, but nevertheless it is capable of producing a Boltzmann distribution of internal energies with the correct internal temperature under quasi-thermal conditions. The energy exchange is described by a transfer probability density that depends on the initial relative kinetic energy, the internal energy of the molecule, and the amount of energy transferred. The probability density for collisions that lead to excitation is assumed to decrease exponentially with the amount of transferred energy. The probability density for de-excitation is obtained from microscopic reversibility. The model has been implemented in the ion trap simulation program ITSIM and coupled with an Rice-Rampsberger-Kassel-Marcus (RRKM) algorithm to describe the unimolecular dissociation of populations of ions. Monte Carlo simulations of collisional energy transfer are presented. The model is validated for non-steady state conditions and for steady state conditions, and the effect of the kinetic energy dependence of the collision cross-section on internal temperature is discussed. Applications of the model to the problem of chemical mass shifts in RF ion trap mass spectrometry are shown.

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© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2003