Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
Research article
07 Apr 2011
Research article |  | 07 Apr 2011

MS/MS studies on the selective on-line detection of sesquiterpenes using a Flowing Afterglow–Tandem Mass Spectrometer (FA-TMS)

J. Rimetz-Planchon, F. Dhooghe, N. Schoon, F. Vanhaecke, and C. Amelynck

Abstract. A Flowing Afterglow-Tandem Mass Spectrometer (FA-TMS) was used to investigate the feasibility of selective on-line detection of a series of seven sesquiterpenes (SQTs). These SQTs were chemically ionized by either H3O+ or NO+ reagent ions in the FA, resulting among others in protonated SQT and SQT molecular ions, respectively. These and other Chemical Ionization (CI) product ions were subsequently subjected to dissociation by collisions with Ar atoms in the collision cell of the tandem mass spectrometer. The fragmentation spectra show similarities with mass spectra obtained for these compounds with other instruments such as a Proton Transfer Reaction-Linear Ion Trap (PTR-LIT), a Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS), a Triple Quadrupole-Mass Spectrometer (QqQ-MS) and a Selected Ion Flow Tube-Mass Spectrometer (SIFT-MS). Fragmentation of protonated SQT is characterized by fragment ions at the same masses but with different intensities for the individual SQT. Distinction of SQTs is based on well-chosen intensity ratios and collision energies. The fragmentation patterns of SQT molecular ions show specific fragment ion tracers at m/z 119, m/z162, m/z 137 and m/z 131 for α-cedrene, δ-neoclovene, isolongifolene and α-humulene, respectively. Consequently, chemical ionization of SQT by NO+, followed by MS/MS of SQT+ seems to open a way for selective quantification of SQTs in mixtures.