Development of solvent-free ambient mass spectrometry for green chemistry applications

Pengyuan Liu, Amanda Forni, Hao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Green chemistry minimizes chemical process hazards in many ways, including eliminating traditional solvents or using alternative recyclable solvents such as ionic liquids. This concept is now adopted in this study for monitoring solvent-free reactions and analysis of ionic liquids, solids, and catalysts by mass spectrometry (MS), without using any solvent. In our approach, probe electrospray ionization (PESI), an ambient ionization method, was employed for this purpose. Neat viscous room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) in trace amounts (e.g., 25 nL) could be directly analyzed without sample carryover effect, thereby enabling high-throughput analysis. With the probe being heated, it can also ionize ionic solid compounds such as organometallic complexes as well as a variety of neat neutral solid chemicals (e.g., amines). More importantly, moisture-sensitive samples (e.g., [bmim][AlCl4]) can be successfully ionized. Furthermore, detection of organometallic catalysts (including air-sensitive [Rh-MeDuPHOS][OTf]) in ionic liquids, a traditionally challenging task due to strong ion suppression effect from ionic liquids, can be enabled using PESI. In addition, PESI can be an ideal approach for monitoring solvent-free reactions. Using PESI-MS, we successfully examined the alkylation of amines by alcohols, the conversion of pyrylium into pyridinium, and the condensation of aldehydes with indoles as well as air- and moisture-sensitive reactions such as the oxidation of ferrocene and the condensation of pyrazoles with borohydride. Interestingly, besides the expected reaction products, the reaction intermediates such as the monopyrazolylborate ion were also observed, providing insightful information for reaction mechanisms. We believe that the presented solvent-free PESI-MS method would impact the green chemistry field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4024-4032
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry


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