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Accueil du site > Production scientifique > Differentiation of isomeric dinitrotoluenes and aminodinitrotoluenes using electrospray high resolution mass spectrometry

Differentiation of isomeric dinitrotoluenes and aminodinitrotoluenes using electrospray high resolution mass spectrometry

Date de publication: 5 décembre 2014

Schwarzenberg, A., Dossmann, H., Cole, R. B., Machuron-Mandard, X., Tabet, J.-C.
J. Mass Spec. 49 1330 (2014). DOI

Travail réalisé sur le site de l’Université Pierre et Marie Curie.


Explosive detection and identification play an important role in the environmental and forensic sciences. However, accurate identification of isomeric compounds remains a challenging task for current analytical methods. The combination of electrospray multistage mass spectrometry (ESI-MSn) and high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) is a powerful tool for the structure characterization of isomeric compounds. We show herein that resonant ion activation performed in a linear quadrupole ion trap allows the differentiation of dinitrotoluene isomers as well as aminodinitrotoluene isomers. The explosive-related compounds : 2,4-dinitrotoluene (2,4-DNT), 2,6-dinitrotoluene (2,6-DNT), 2-amino-4,6-dinitrotoluene (2A-4,6-DNT) and 4-amino-2,6-dinitrotoluene (4A-2,6-DNT) were analyzed by ESI-MS in the negative ion mode ; they produced mainly deprotonated molecules [M − H]−. Subsequent low resolution MSn experiments provided support for fragment ion assignments and determination of consecutive dissociation pathways. Resonant activation of deprotonated dinitrotoluene isomers gave different fragment ions according to the position of the nitro and amino groups on the toluene backbone. Fragment ion identification was bolstered by accurate mass measurements performed using Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR/MS). Notably, unexpected results were found from accurate mass measurements performed at high resolution for 2,6-DNT where a 30-Da loss was observed that corresponds to CH2O departure instead of the expected isobaric NO• loss. Moreover, 2,4-DNT showed a diagnostic fragment ion at m/z 116, allowing the unambiguous distinction between 2,4- and 2,6-DNT isomers. Here, CH2O loss is hindered by the presence of an amino group in both 2A-4,6-DNT and 4A-2,6-DNT isomers, but nevertheless, these isomers showed significant differences in their fragmentation sequences, thus allowing their differentiation. DFT calculations were also performed to support experimental observations.