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Accurate Drift Time Determination by Traveling Wave Ion Mobility Spectrometry: The Concept of the Diffusion Calibration

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posted on 02.11.2016, 00:00 by Christopher Kune, Johann Far, Edwin De Pauw
Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) is a gas phase separation technique, which relies on differences in collision cross section (CCS) of ions. Ionic clouds of unresolved conformers overlap if the CCS difference is below the instrumental resolution expressed as CCS/ΔCCS. The experimental arrival time distribution (ATD) peak is then a superimposition of the various contributions weighted by their relative intensities. This paper introduces a strategy for accurate drift time determination using traveling wave ion mobility spectrometry (TWIMS) of poorly resolved or unresolved conformers. This method implements through a calibration procedure the link between the peak full width at half-maximum (fwhm) and the drift time of model compounds for wide range of settings for wave heights and velocities. We modified a Gaussian equation, which achieves the deconvolution of ATD peaks where the fwhm is fixed according to our calibration procedure. The new fitting Gaussian equation only depends on two parameters: The apex of the peak (A) and the mean drift time value (μ). The standard deviation parameter (correlated to fwhm) becomes a function of the drift time. This correlation function between μ and fwhm is obtained using the TWIMS calibration procedure which determines the maximum instrumental ion beam diffusion under limited and controlled space charge effect using ionic compounds which are detected as single conformers in the gas phase. This deconvolution process has been used to highlight the presence of poorly resolved conformers of crown ether complexes and peptides leading to more accurate CCS determinations in better agreement with quantum chemistry predictions.