Predicting differential ion mobility behaviour in silico using machine learning†
Although there has been a surge in popularity of differential mobility spectrometry (DMS) within analytical workflows, determining separation conditions within the DMS parameter space still requires manual optimization. A means of accurately predicting differential ion mobility would benefit practitioners by significantly reducing the time associated with method development. Here, we report a machine learning (ML) approach that predicts dispersion curves in an N2 environment, which are the compensation voltages (CVs) required for optimal ion transmission across a range of separation voltages (SVs) between 1500 to 4000 V. After training a random-forest based model using the DMS information of 409 cationic analytes, dispersion curves were reproduced with a mean absolute error (MAE) of ≤ 2.4 V, approaching typical experimental peak FWHMs of ±1.5 V. The predictive ML model was trained using only m/z and ion-neutral collision cross section (CCS) as inputs, both of which can be obtained from experimental databases before being extensively validated. By updating the model via inclusion of two CV datapoints at lower SVs (1500 V and 2000 V) accuracy was further improved to MAE ≤ 1.2 V. This improvement stems from the ability of the “guided” ML routine to accurately capture Type A and B behaviour, which was exhibited by only 2% and 17% of ions, respectively, within the dataset. Dispersion curve predictions of the database's most common Type C ions (81%) using the unguided and guided approaches exhibited average errors of 0.6 V and 0.1 V, respectively.