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Hydrogen Peroxide-Induced Oxidation of Mixtures of Alkanethiols and Their Quantitative Detection as Alkanesulfonates by Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry

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journal contribution
posted on 22.02.2016 by Rachel Roberts, Joshua A. Driver, Danielle M. Brown, Sagar H. Amin, Brian W. Gregory
Finding optimal experimental conditions for generating stable negative ion electrospray ionization ion trap mass spectra (ESI-IT-MS) of alkanethiol-derived species is critical for quantitatively characterizing multicomponent alkanethiol-based self-assembled monolayers by this technique. Since alkanethiolates slowly oxidize in solution, purposeful oxidation of alkanethiols to their fully oxidized form (alkanesulfonates) is advantageous: sulfonates are chemically stable and have little affinity for covalent binding to metal surfaces. We have used ESI-IT-MS to characterize the products of H2O2 oxidation of simple n-alkanethiols in solution and have observed monomeric alkanesulfonate species as well as alkanesulfonic acid/alkanesulfonate adducts, yielding gas-phase dimers and trimers. MS intensities of both monomers and adducts exhibit a dependence on the ion transfer capillary temperature that is alkyl-chain-length-dependent and that appears to be correlated with C–S bond cleavage. The trend in optimal capillary temperatures indicates that entropic effects lead to lower thermal decomposition temperatures for short-chain species relative to the longer-chain homologues. MS calibration data from alkanesulfonate mixtures are characterized by large linear dynamic ranges (10–6–10–3 M) and detection limits influenced by their thermal decomposition. The high degree of precision in the calibration data should facilitate distinguishing among mixed SAMs having similar compositions.

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