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Anal Chem. 2006 Jan 1;78(1):96-106.

Characterization of gas-phase molecular interactions on differential mobility ion behavior utilizing an electrospray ionization-differential mobility-mass spectrometer system.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Differential mobility spectrometry (DMS) is a rapidly advancing technology for gas-phase ion separation. The interfacing of DMS with mass spectrometry (MS) offers potential advantages over the use of mass spectrometry alone. Such advantages include improvements to mass spectral signal/noise ratios, orthogonal/complementary ion separation to mass spectrometry, enhanced ion and complexation structural analysis, and potential for rapid analyte quantitation. The introduction of a new ESI-DMS-MS system and its utilization to aid in the understanding of DMS separation theory is described. A current contribution to DMS separation theory is one of an association/dissociation process between ions/molecules in the gas phase during the differential mobility separation. A model study was designed to investigate the molecular dynamics and chemical factors influencing the theorized association/dissociation process, and the mechanisms by which these gas-phase interactions affect an ion's DM behavior. Five piperidine analogues were selected as model analytes, and three alcohol drift gas dopants/modifiers were used to interrogate the analyte ions in the gas phase. Two proposed DMS separation mechanisms, introduced as Core and Fa├žade, corresponding to strong and weak attractions between ions/molecules in the gas phase, are detailed. The proposed mechanisms provide explanation for the observed changes in analyte separation by the various drift gas modifiers. Molecular modeling of the proposed mechanisms provides supportive data and demonstrates the potential for predictive optimization of analyte separation based on drift gas modifier effects.

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