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Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry: a major tool to investigate reaction mechanisms in both solution and the gas phase.

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ThoMS on Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Institute of Chemistry, State University of Campinas 13085-850 Campinas, SP Brazil.


Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), in conjunction with its tandem version ESI-MS/MS, is now established as a major tool to study reaction mechanisms in solution. This suitability results mainly from the ability of ESI to "fish" ions directly from solution to the gas phase environment of mass spectrometers. In this review, we summarize recent studies from our laboratory on the use of on-line monitoring by ESI-MS ion fishing of several types of reactions that permitted us to follow how these reactions progress as a function of both time and conditions using the ultra-high sensitivity and speed of ESI-MS to detect and even characterize transient reaction intermediates. We also show that the intrinsic reactivity of each key gaseous species fished by ESI can be further investigated via ESI-tandem mass spectrometry experiments, searching for the most active species via gas-phase ion/molecule reactions. In the gas-phase, solvent and counter-ion effects are absent. These studies often permit a detailed overview of major steps via the interception, characterization and reactivity investigation of key reaction players.


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