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Nitrogen oxides as dopants for the detection of aromatic compounds with ion mobility spectrometry

Gaik, Urszula, Sillanpää, Mika, Witkiewicz, Zygfryd, Puton, Jarosław
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2017 v.409 no.12 pp. 3223-3231
benzene, detection limit, humidity, ionization, nitrogen oxides, phosphates, spectrometers, spectroscopy, toluene, water vapor
Limits of detection (LODs) in ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) strictly depend on ionization of the analyte. Especially challenging is ionization of compounds with relatively low proton affinity (PA) such as aromatic compounds. To change the course of ion-molecule reactions and enhance the performance of the IMS spectrometer, substances called dopants are introduced into the carrier gas. In this work, we present the results of studies of detection using nitrogen oxides (NOₓ) dopants. Three aromatic compounds, benzene, toluene, toluene diisocyanate and, for comparison, two compounds with high PA, dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP) and triethyl phosphate (TEP), were selected as analytes. The influence of water vapour on these analyses was also studied. Experiments were carried out with a generator of gas mixtures that allowed for the simultaneous introduction of three substances into the carrier gas. The experiments showed that the use of NOₓ dopants significantly decreases LODs for aromatic compounds and does not affect the detection of compounds with high PA. The water vapour significantly disturbs the detection of aromatic compounds; however, doping with NOₓ allows to reduce the effect of humidity. Graphical Abstract Two possible ionization mechanisms of aromatic compounds in ion mobility spectrometry: proton transfer reaction and adduct formation