Mercury-induced fragmentation of n-decane and n-undecane in positive mode ion mobility spectrometry
Ion mobility spectrometry is a well-known technique for trace gas analysis. Using soft ionization techniques, fragmentation of analytes is normally not observed, with the consequence that analyte spectra of single substances are quite simple, i.e. showing in general only one peak. If the concentration is high enough, an extra cluster peak involving two analyte molecules can often be observed. When investigating n-alkanes, different results regarding the number of peaks in the spectra have been obtained in the past using this spectrometric technique. Here we present results obtained when analyzing n-alkanes (n-hexane to n-undecane) with a pulsed electron source, which show no fragmentation or clustering at all. However, when investigating a mixture of mercury and an n-alkane, a situation quite typical in the oil and gas industry, a strong fragmentation and cluster formation involving these fragments has been observed exclusively for n-decane and n-undecane.