Decomposition of protonated formic acid: One transition state—Two product channels

  • Osamu Sekiguchi
  • Vebjørn Bakken
  • Einar UggerudEmail author
Focus: McLafferty Rearrangement


The unimolecular chemistry of protonated formic acid. [HCOOH]H+. has been investigated by analyzing the fragmentation of metastable ions (MI) during flight in a sector mass spectrometer. and by proton transfer to formic acid in a Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometer. High level ab initio calculations have been used to model the relevant parts of the potential energy surface (PES). In addition. ab initio direct dynamics calculations have been conducted. tracing out 60 different reaction trajectories. The only stable isomer in the mass spectrometric experiments is HC(OH) 2 + . which is the precursor to both observed ionic products. HCO+ and H3O+. via the same saddle point of the potential energy surface. The detailed motion of the dissociating molecule during passage of the post-transition state region of the PES therefore determines which product ion is formed. After passing the TS a transient HC(O)OH 2 + molecule is first formed. High total energy increases the probability that the nascent water molecule will have sufficient speed to escape the HCO+ moiety. Otherwise. typically at low energies. the two units recombine. upon which intra-complex proton transfer is very likely. Eventually. this will give the more stable H3O+.


Proton Transfer Potential Energy Surface HCOOH Collisionally Induce Dissociation Appearance Energy 
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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Osamu Sekiguchi
    • 1
  • Vebjørn Bakken
    • 1
  • Einar Uggerud
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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