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Fragmentation of Allylmethylsulfide by Chemical Ionization: Dependence on Humidity and Inhibiting Role of Water

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posted on 16.12.2015, 23:03 by Thana Maihom, Erna Schuhfried, Michael Probst, Jumras Limtrakul, Tilmann D. Märk, Franco Biasioli
We report on a previously unknown reaction mechanism involving water in the fragmentation reaction following chemical ionization. This result stems from a study presented here on the humidity-dependent and energy-dependent endoergic fragmentation of allyl methyl sulfide (AMS) upon protonation in a proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometer (PTR-MS). The fragmentation pathways were studied with experimental (PTR-MS) and quantum chemical methods (polarizable continuum model (PCM), microhydration, studied at the MP2/6-311+G­(3df,2p)//MP2/6-31G­(d,p) level of theory). We report in detail on the energy profiles, reaction mechanisms, and proton affinities (G4MP2 calculations). In the discovered reaction mechanism, water reduces the fragmentation of protonated species in chemical ionization. It does so by direct interaction with the protonated species via covalent binding (C3H5+) or via association (AMS·H+). This stabilizes intermediate complexes and thus overall increases the activation energy for fragmentation. Water thereby acts as a reusable inhibitor (anticatalyst) in chemical ionization. Moreover, according to the quantum chemical (QC) results, when water is present in abundance it has the opposite effect and enhances fragmentation. The underlying reason is a concentration-dependent change in the reaction principle from active inhibition of fragmentation to solvation, which then enhances fragmentation. This amphoteric behavior of water is found for the fragmentation of C3H5+ to C3H3+, and similarly for the fragmentation of AMS·H+ to C3H5+. The results support humidity-dependent quantification efforts for PTR-MS and chemical ionization mass spectrometry (CIMS). Moreover, the results should allow for a better understanding of ion-chemistry in the presence of water.