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Study of chemistry in droplets with net charge before and after Coulomb explosion: ion-induced nucleation in solution and implications for ion production in an electrospray

, : Study of chemistry in droplets with net charge before and after Coulomb explosion: ion-induced nucleation in solution and implications for ion production in an electrospray. Analytical Chemistry 77(10): 3189-3197

Droplets with net charge are essential intermediaries in the production of gaseous ions in the electrospray (ES) ion source. There could be a wealth of knowledge regarding the chemistry that occurs in such droplets as a result of their violation of electroneutrality. Such information could lead to improved understanding of the ion generation process in an ES along with factors that affect it. The experiments performed involved the levitation of individually charged droplets that were, and were not, allowed to undergo Coulomb explosion while they remained levitated in an electrodynamic balance (EDB). Through examination of precipitates formed within the levitated droplets, it was observed that onset of NaCl precipitation was promoted in droplets (glycerol:water 9:1 v/v) that had mass-to-net-charge (m/z) ratio <-4.8 x 10(9) amu/e. This threshold m/z value is exceeded in essentially all droplets generated in an ES because it is above the calculated threshold for Coulomb explosion. This finding suggests that cluster formation in droplets having net charge could occur at solute concentrations lower than would be anticipated on the basis of homogeneous nucleation. The effect of large entities such as precipitates existing in the droplet on the dynamics of droplet Coulomb explosion was also examined. Using droplets whose initial size and magnitude of net charge were equivalent within experimental error but having different concentration of solutes, we showed that the m/z of their main residues following Coulomb explosion were different. Micrometer-size droplets containing 20 nm fluorescent beads that underwent Coulomb explosion resulted in main residues that had higher m/z for higher initial bead concentration in the starting solution (320 nM) when compared to main residues resultant from starting solutions having lower initial bead concentration (21 nM).


PMID: 15889908

DOI: 10.1021/ac048536g

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