Generation and collision-induced dissociation of ammonium tetrafluoroborate cluster ions



Singly and doubly charged cluster ions of ammonium tetrafluoroborate (NH4BF4) with general formula [(NH4BF4)nNH4]+ and [(NH4BF4)m(NH4)2]2+, respectively, were generated by electrospray ionization (ESI) and their fragmentation examined using collision-induced dissociation (CID) and ion-trap tandem mass spectrometry. CID of [(NH4BF4)nNH4]+ caused the loss of one or more neutral NH4BF4 units. The n = 2 cluster, [(NH4BF4)2NH4]+, was unique in that it also exhibited a dissociation pathway in which HBF4 was eliminated to create [(NH4BF4)(NH3)NH4]+. Dissociation of [(NH4BF4)m(NH4)2]2+ occurred through two general pathways: (a) ‘fission’ to produce singly charged cluster ions and (b) elimination of one or more neutral NH4BF4 units to leave doubly charged product ions. CID profiles, and measurements of changing precursor and product ion signal intensity as a function of applied collision voltage, were collected for [(NH4BF4)nNH4]+ and compared with those for analogous [(NaBF4)nNa]+ and [(KBF4)nK]+ ions to determine the influence of the cation on the relative stability of cluster ions. In general, the [(NH4BF4)nNH4]+ clusters were found to be easier to dissociate than both the sodium and potassium clusters of comparable size, with [(KBF4)nK]+ ions the most difficult to dissociate. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.