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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2013 Sep;24(9):1385-95. doi: 10.1007/s13361-013-0683-0. Epub 2013 Jul 2.

Gas-phase synthesis of singly and multiply charged polyoxovanadate anions employing electrospray ionization and collision induced dissociation.

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Physical Sciences Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99352, USA.


Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) combined with in-source fragmentation and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) experiments were used to generate a wide range of singly and multiply charged vanadium oxide cluster anions including VxOy(n-) and VxOyCl(n-) ions (x = 1-14, y = 2-36, n = 1-3), protonated clusters, and ligand-bound polyoxovanadate anions. The cluster anions were produced by electrospraying a solution of tetradecavanadate, V14O36Cl(L)5 (L = Et4N(+), tetraethylammonium), in acetonitrile. Under mild source conditions, ESI-MS generates a distribution of doubly and triply charged VxOyCl(n-) and VxOyCl(L)((n-1)-) clusters predominantly containing 14 vanadium atoms as well as their protonated analogs. Accurate mass measurement using a high-resolution LTQ/Orbitrap mass spectrometer (m/Δm = 60,000 at m/z 410) enabled unambiguous assignment of the elemental composition of the majority of peaks in the ESI-MS spectrum. In addition, high-sensitivity mass spectrometry allowed the charge state of the cluster ions to be assigned based on the separation of the major from the much less abundant minor isotope of vanadium. In-source fragmentation resulted in facile formation of smaller VxOyCl((1-2)-) and VxOy ((1-2)-) anions. Collision-induced dissociation (CID) experiments enabled systematic study of the gas-phase fragmentation pathways of the cluster anions originating from solution and from in-source CID. Surprisingly simple fragmentation patterns were obtained for all singly and doubly charged VxOyCl and VxOy species generated through multiple MS/MS experiments. In contrast, cluster anions originating directly from solution produced comparatively complex CID spectra. These results are consistent with the formation of more stable structures of VxOyCl and VxOy anions through low-energy CID. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that solution-phase synthesis of one precursor cluster anion combined with gas-phase CID is an efficient approach for the top-down synthesis of a wide range of singly and multiply charged gas-phase metal oxide cluster anions for subsequent investigations of structure and reactivity using mass spectrometry and ion spectroscopy techniques.


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