The routine analysis of low molecular weight analytes by mass spectrometry is often complicated by the lability of the analyte’s functional groups and/or the lack of moieties that can be easily charged. If a molecule is too labile this precludes analysis by techniques such as electron ionisation or chemical ionisation as the analyte will undergo thermal decomposition prior to ionisation as well as spontaneous fragmentation during the ionisation process. If the analyte has a low propensity to form ions in electrospray ionisation (i.e., lacks acidic or basic sites) then often no analyte related ions are observed. In this paper, the robustness and versatility of the established method of atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation is demonstrated for the analysis of low molecular weight analytes. The utility of the technique is demonstrated through the analysis of 30 reference standards of varying functionality, and further by the analysis of 75 synthetic samples which were problematic when analysed by electron or electrospray ionisation. The resulting spectra are dominated by intact molecular species ([M+H]+ and M+ in positive ion mode and [M − H]− and [M + Cl]− in negative ion mode) along with logical neutral losses reminiscent of what you might expect from the analyte’s structure (losses of H2O from alcohols or CO from aldehydes etc). This paper presents atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation as an essential tool for broadening the chemical space of successful analyses for any routine mass spectrometry service laboratory of facility.
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© The Author(s) 2021.
- low molecular weight
- routine analysis