Identification of volatile and semivolatile compounds in chemical ionization GC-MS using a Mass-To-Structure (MTS) Search Engine with integral isotope pattern ranking
The mass-to-structure or MTS Search Engine is an Access 2010 database containing theoretical molecular mass information for 19 438 compounds assembled from common sources such as the Merck Index, pesticide and pharmaceutical compilations, and chemical catalogues. This database, which contains no experimental mass spectral data, was developed as an aid to identification of compounds in atmospheric pressure ionization (API)-LC-MS. This paper describes a powerful upgrade to this database, a fully integrated utility for filtering or ranking candidates based on isotope ratios and patterns. The new MTS Search Engine is applied here to the identification of volatile and semivolatile compounds including pesticides, nitrosoamines and other pollutants. Methane and isobutane chemical ionization (CI) GC-MS spectra were obtained from unit mass resolution mass spectrometers to determine MH+ masses and isotope ratios. Isotopes were measured accurately with errors of <4% and <6%, respectively, for A + 1 and A + 2 peaks. Deconvolution of interfering isotope clusters (e.g., M+ and [M − H]+) was required for accurate determination of the A + 1 isotope in halogenated compounds. Integrating the isotope data greatly improved the speed and accuracy of the database identifications. The database accurately identified unknowns from isobutane CI spectra in 100% of cases where as many as 40 candidates satisfied the mass tolerance. The paper describes the development and basic operation of the new MTS Search Engine and details performance testing with over 50 model compounds.