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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2008 Feb;19(2):261-9. Epub 2007 Nov 7.

Evaluation of dicationic reagents for their use in detection of anions using positive ion mode ESI-MS via gas phase ion association.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas 76019, USA.


Twenty-three different dications were investigated for their effectiveness in pairing with singly charged anions, thereby allowing the electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) detection of anions as positively charged complexes. Nitrate, iodide, cyanate, monochloroacetate, benzenesulfonate, and perfluoro-octanoate were chosen as representative test anions as they differ in mass, size-to-charge ratio, chaotropic nature, and overall complexity. Detection limits were found using direct injection of the anion into a carrier liquid containing the dication. Detection limits are given for all six anions with each of the 23 dications. Each anion was easily detected at the ppb (microg/L) and often the ppt (ng/L) levels using certain dicationic reagents. The ability of dicationic reagents to pair with anions and produce ESI-MS signals varied tremendously. Indeed, only a few dications can be considered broadly useful and able to produce sensitive results. Liquid chromatography (LC)-ESI-MS also was investigated and used to show how varying the dicationic reagent produced significantly different peak intensities. Also, the use of tandem mass spectrometry can lead to even greater sensitivity when using imidazolium based dications.

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