Mass, mobility and MSn measurements of single ions using charge detection mass spectrometry†
Charge detection mass spectrometry is used to measure the mass, charge, MSn and mobility of an individual ion produced by electrospray ionization of a 8 MDa polyethylene glycol sample. The charge detection mass spectrometer is an electrostatic ion trap that uses cone electrodes and a single tube detector and can detect ions for up to the full trapping time of 4.0 s. The time-domain signal induced on the detector tube by a single multiply charged ion can be complex owing to sequential fragmentation of the original precursor ion as well as increasing oscillation frequencies of the single ion owing to collisions with background gas that reduce the kinetic energy of the ion inside the trap. Simulations show that the ratio of the time for the ion to turn around inside the cone region of the trap to the time for the ion to travel through the detector tube is constant with m/z and increases with the ion energy per charge. By measuring this ratio, the kinetic energy of an ion can be obtained with good precision (∼1%) and this method to measure ion kinetic energies eliminates the necessity of ion energy selection prior to trapping for high precision mass measurement of large molecules in complex mixtures. This method also makes it possible to measure the masses of each sequential fragment ion formed from the original precursor ion. MS7 of a single multiply charged PEG molecule is demonstrated, and from these ion energy measurements and effects of collisions on the ion motion inside the trap, information about the ion mobility of the precursor ion and its fragments is obtained.