Ionization mechanisms in capillary supercritical fluid chromatography-chemical ionization mass spectrometry

R.J. Houben, P.A. Leclercq, C.A.M.G. Cramers

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Ionization mechanisms have been studied for supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) with mass spectrometric (MS) detection. One of the problems associated with SFC-MS is the interference of mobile phase constituents in the ionization process, which complicates the interpretation of the resulting mass spectra. This interference can be reduced by adding a reagent gas to the ion source. It was found that the properties and the pressure of this reagent gas control the ionization process. In this study ammonia was used as a chemical ionization (CI) reagent gas. An increase in the reagent gas pressure generally resulted in higher abundances of the protonated molecular ion. The presence of an excess of reagent gas suppresses charge exchange processes between the mobile phase constituents and the solutes. Charge exchange causes a more pronounced fragmentation than proton transfer in CI processes. The spectra obtained by charge exchange ionization, with helium as the reagent gas at moderately high pressures, are comparable to electron ionization spectra from standard MS libraries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-358
JournalJournal of Chromatography
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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