Gas phase ion-molecule reactions of nitroaromatic explosive compounds studied by hollow cathode discharge ionization-mass spectrometry.
Hong H, Habib A, Bi L, Wen L.
Talanta. 2022; 236(): 122834

Abstract

In this study, we have developed a variable pressure operating hollow cathode discharge (HCD) ion source to investigate the gas phase ion-molecule reactions of nitroaromatic explosive compounds. The developed HCD ion source coupled MS system has also been validated as an analytical method to analyze explosives at trace levels. The ion source was designed in such a way that the plasma can be generated alternatively at high pressure (~30 Torr), medium pressure (~5 Torr) and low pressure (~1 Torr) regions. The plasma contains a sufficient amount of reactant ions, electrons and excited species, thus the gaseous analyte molecules were efficiently ionized when they passed through the plasma. In the ion-molecule reactions of the nitroaromatic explosives, the discharge products of NOx(-) (x = 2,3), O3 and HNO3 originating from the plasma-excited air were suggested to contribute to the formation of mostly [M - H](-), [M - NO](-), [M+NO3-HNO2](-) and [M-NO+HNO3](-) adduct ions at the higher ion source pressures (~5 and 28 Torr) while the electron rich plasma leads to the formation of molecular ion, M(-*), at the lower ion source pressure (~1 Torr). Formation of the hydride-adduct ions of the nitroaromatic compounds reveals the surface-assisted Birch type reduction in the HCD plasma. The variety of spectral patterns in the air-assisted glow discharge would be useful for high through-put detection of TNT and TNT-related explosives. An ambient helium dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) ion source was also used and gave identical mass spectra of the nitroaromatic explosive compounds to those observed by the HCD ion source, but did not give any hydride-adduct ions of the explosive compounds. Ion formation mechanism of these ions is also discussed. CI - Copyright (c) 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.



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