Selective Reagent Ion Mass Spectrometric Investigations of the Nitroanilines

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This paper presents an investigation of proton and charge transfer reactions to 2-, 3- and 4-nitroanilines (C 6H 6N 2O 2) involving the reagent ions H 3O +·(H 2O) n (n = 0, 1 and 2) and O 2 +, respectively, as a function of reduced electric field (60–240 Td), using Selective Reagent Ion–Time-of-Flight–Mass Spectrometry (SRI–ToF–MS). To aid in the interpretation of the H 3O +·(H 2O) n experimental data, the proton affinities and gas-phase basicities for the three nitroaniline isomers have been determined using density functional theory. These calculations show that proton transfer from both the H 3O + and H 3O +·H 2O reagent ions to the nitroanilines will be exoergic and hence efficient, with the reactions proceeding at the collisional rate. For proton transfer from H 3O + to the NO 2 sites, the exoergicities are 171 kJ mol −1 (1.8 eV), 147 kJ mol −1 (1.5 eV) and 194 kJ mol −1 (2.0 eV) for 2-, 3- and 4-nitroanilines, respectively. Electron transfer from all three of the nitroanilines is also significantly exothermic by approximately 4 eV. Although a substantial transfer of energy occurs during the ion/molecule reactions, the processes are found to predominantly proceed via non-dissociative pathways over a large reduced electric field range. Only at relatively high reduced electric fields (> 180 Td) is dissociative proton and charge transfer observed. Differences in fragment product ions and their intensities provide a means to distinguish the isomers, with proton transfer distinguishing 2-nitroaniline (2–NA) from 3- and 4-NA, and charge transfer distinguishing 4-NA from 2- and 3-NA, thereby providing a means to enhance selectivity using SRI–ToF–MS. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2259-2266
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number11
Early online date9 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Soft chemical i-mass spectrometry, Proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry, Nitroanilines, Explosives, Charge transfer