Padma Marwah Ashok K. Marwah Paul V. Zimba


Formation of metal ion adducts in mass spectrometry, particularly in electrospray ionization liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (ESI-LC-MS), is a nightmare scenario for an analyst dealing with quantitative analysis. We have studied in detail the metal adduct formation and concluded  that the use of fluorinated alkanoic acids along with formic acid and volatile ammonium salts was extremely useful in suppressing metal adduct formation in positive ion mode of ESI-LC-MS. The extremely high electronegativity of fluorine atom and unique electrostatic nature of C—F bond coupled with stereo-electronic interactions with neighboring bonds or lone pairs enables the polyfluorinated alkanoic acids in trapping highly electropositive ions (Na+, K+) thereby letting proton do its job efficiently. Addition of formic acid, trifluoroacetic acid, heptafluorobutyric acid and ammonium acetate was found to be extremely effective in controlling metal ion adducts and producing [M+H]+ ions almost exclusively resulting in significant increase in the sensitivity. This technique has been successfully used in our laboratory for the estimation of targeted and nontargeted analysis of pesticides, marine toxins, drugs and pharmaceuticals etc. in various matrices including environmental waters using liquid chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometer operated in all ion acquisition mode and triple quadruples (QQQ) in multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode.


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Ammonium acetate, Electrospray ionization (ESI), Forensic sciences, Formic acid, Heptafluorobutyric acid (HFBA), Liquid chromatography-Mass spectrometry (LC-MS);, Metal ion adducts, Sensitivity, TOF

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Marwah, P., Marwah, A. K., & Zimba, P. V. . (2020). Controlling formation of metal ion adducts and enhancing sensitivity in Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry. Journal of Applied and Natural Science, 12(2), 180–192. https://doi.org/10.31018/jans.vi.2277
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