Quantitative aspects of and ionization mechanisms in positive-ion atmospheric pressure chemical ionization mass spectrometry

  • Lisandra Cubero Herrera
  • J. Stuart Grossert
  • Louis Ramaley


The behavior in atmospheric pressure chemical ionization of selected model polycyclic aromatic compounds, pyrene, dibenzothiophene, carbazole, and fluorenone, was studied in the solvents acetonitrile, methanol, and toluene. Relative ionization efficiency and sensitivity were highest in toluene and lowest in methanol, a mixture of molecular ions and protonated molecules was observed in most instances, and interferences between analytes were detected at higher concentrations. Such interferences were assumed to be caused by a competition among analyte molecules for a limited number of reagent ions in the plasma. The presence of both molecular ions and protonated analyte molecules can be attributed to charge-transfer from solvent radical cations and proton transfer from protonated solvent molecules, respectively. The order of ionization efficiency could be explained by incorporating the effect of solvation in the ionization reactions. Thermodynamic data, both experimental and calculated theoretically, are presented to support the proposed ionization mechanisms. The analytical implications of the results are that using acetonitrile (compared with methanol) as solvent will provide better sensitivity with fewer interferences (at low concentrations), except for analytes having high gas-phase basicities.


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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisandra Cubero Herrera
    • 1
  • J. Stuart Grossert
    • 1
  • Louis Ramaley
    • 1
  1. 1.Trace Analysis Research Centre, Department of ChemistryDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Marine BiosciencesNational Research Council of CanadaHalifaxCanada

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