Evaluating the variation of ion energy under different parameter settings in traveling wave ion mobility mass spectrometry

  • Joseph N. Mwangi
  • Daniel A. Todd
  • Norman H. L. ChiuEmail author
Technical Report


Ion mobility mass spectrometry (IM-MS) can be used to differentiate and identify isobaric ions. To improve IM-MS resolution, the second generation of traveling wave ion mobility (TWIM) technology was launched. There were reports showing ions were heated up by TWIM. With higher ion energy, it could alter the conformation of larger ions or MS/MS experiments. To monitor the energy exchange relating to the TWIM process, the combined use of thermometer ions with unique molecular structure and theoretical calculations to determine the effective temperature of ions had been explored. In this report, the use of a simple experimental approach to estimate the variation on the ion energy that result from changing a TWIM parameter setting is demonstrated. The approach aims to achieve the same percentage of ion dissociation in a collision cell, which is part of the original instrument and located at the exit of TWIM cell. Similar to the traditional MS/MS experiments, the same level of ion dissociation could be achieved by adjusting the electrical potential that was applied to the collision cell. The higher the ion energy after the TWIM separation, the lower the electrical potential was required to achieve the same level of ion dissociation. Together with the information on the number of electrical charge in the selected ion, the difference in the required electrical potentials could be converted into electron volt of ion energy that resulted from changing the TWIM parameter setting. The results showed ion energy could be changed 1–9 eV when the parameter of TWIM was adjusted.


Traveling wave Ion mobility Mass spectrometry Ion heating 



J.M. wishes to acknowledge the supports received from NSF GK-12 program and Burroughs Wellcome Fund. N.C. wishes to acknowledge the support from an internal research grant. All other financial and technical supports were provided by the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at UNCG.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.Joint School of Nanoscience and NanoengineeringUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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