Current perspectives on supercharging reagents in electrospray ionization mass spectrometry
In electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), analytes are introduced into the mass spectrometer in typically aqueous-organic solvent mixtures, including pH modifiers. One mechanism for improving the signal intensity and simultaneously increasing the generation of higher charge-state ions is the inclusion of small amounts (approx. <0.5% v/v mobile phase solution) of charge-inducing or supercharging reagents, such as m-nitrobenzyl alcohol, o-nitrobenzyl alcohol, m-nitrobenzonitrile, m-(trifluoromethyl)-benzyl alcohol and sulfolane. We explore the direct and indirect (colligative properties) that have been proposed as responsible for their modes of action during ESI. Of the many theorized mechanisms of ESI, we re-visit the three most popular and highlight how they are impacted by supercharging observations on small ions to large molecules including proteins. We then provide a comprehensive list of 34 supercharging reagents that have been demonstrated in ESI experiments. We include an additional 19 potential candidate isomers as supercharging reagents and comment on their broad physico-chemical properties. It is becoming increasingly obvious that advances in technology and improved ion source design, analyzers e.g. the use of ion mobility, ion trap, circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, together with computer modeling are increasing the knowledge base and, together with the untested isomers and yet-to-be unearthed ones, offer opportunities for further research and application in other areas of polymer research.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2021 Reviews in RSC Advances