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Anal Chem. 2012 Aug 21;84(16):7179-87. doi: 10.1021/ac301533z. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Chemical analysis of complex organic mixtures using reactive nanospray desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.

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Chemical and Materials Sciences Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, P.O. Box 999, MSIN K8-88, Richland, Washington 99352, USA.


Reactive nanospray desorption electrospray ionization (nano-DESI) combined with high-resolution mass spectrometry was utilized for the analysis of secondary organic aerosol produced through ozonolysis of limonene (LSOA). Previous studies have shown that LSOA constituents are multifunctional compounds containing at least one aldehyde or ketone groups. In this study, we used the selectivity of the Girard's reagent T (GT) toward carbonyl compounds to examine the utility of reactive nano-DESI for the analysis of complex organic mixtures. In these experiments, 1-100 μM GT solutions were used as the working solvents for reactive nano-DESI analysis. Abundant products from the single addition of GT to LSOA constituents were observed at GT concentrations in excess of 10 μM. We found that LSOA dimeric and trimeric compounds react with GT through a simple addition reaction resulting in formation of the carbinolamine derivative. In contrast, reactions of GT with monomeric species result in the formation of both the carbinolamine and the hydrazone derivatives. In addition, several monomers did not react with GT on the time scale of our experiment. These molecules were characterized by relatively high values of the double bond equivalent and low oxygen content. Furthermore, because addition of a charged GT tag to a neutral molecule eliminates the discrimination against the low proton affinity compounds in the ionization process, reactive nano-DESI analysis enables quantification of individual compounds in the complex mixture. For example, we were able to estimate for the first time the amounts of dimers and trimers in the LSOA mixture. Specifically, we found that the most abundant LSOA dimer was detected at the ~0.5 pg level and the total amount of dimers and trimers in the analyzed sample was ~11 pg. Our results indicate that reactive nano-DESI is a valuable approach for examining the presence of specific functional groups and for the quantification of compounds possessing these groups in complex mixtures.

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