Changing the fragmentation pattern of molecules in helium nanodroplets by co-embedding with water
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Individual amino acid molecules embedded in helium nanodroplets fragment extensively when the beam is ionized by electron bombardment. However, we find that when glycine and tryptophan are picked up right after, or right before, a small amount of water, the mass spectra become significantly altered. For glycine, the detected ions consist almost entirely of intact protonated amino acids, with or without a few water molecules attached. In other words, the presence of water exerts a striking “buffering” effect on the ionization-induced fragmentation. For tryptophan the effect is weaker but also present. In both cases, the hydroxyl group lost upon ionization overwhelmingly comes from the water partner (in strong contrast to the situation observed when amino acids are picked up by neat water clusters). A complementary experiment involving DCl molecules co-embedded with water shows that in this case Cl and/or DCl invariably leave the droplet upon ionization. The observed patterns may be steered by the analytes' dipole moments or by solvation effects.
PACS.36.40.Qv Stability and fragmentation of clusters 34.80.Ht Dissociation and dissociative attachment by electron impact
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