Functional groups and structural insights of water-soluble organic carbon using ultrahigh resolution FT-ICR tandem mass spectrometry

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Conference Proceeding

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Water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) is a complex mixture of thousands of organic compounds which may have significant influence on the climate-relevant properties of atmospheric aerosols. An improved understanding of the molecular composition of WSOC is needed to evaluate the effect of aerosol composition upon aerosol physical properties. Products of gas phase, aqueous phase and particle phase reactions contribute to pre-existing aerosol organic mass or nucleate new aerosol particles. Thus, ambient aerosols carry a complex array of WSOC components with variable chemical signatures depending upon its origin and aerosol life-cycle processes. In this work, ultrahigh resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) was used to characterize aerosol WSOC collected during the summer of 2010 at the Storm Peak Laboratory (3210 m a.s.l.) near Steamboat Springs, CO. Approximately 4000 molecular formulas were assigned in the mass range of m/z 100-800 after negative-ion electrospray ionization. The observed trends indicate significant non-oxidative accretion reaction pathways for the formation of high molecular weight WSOC components closely associated with terpene ozonolysis secondary organic aerosol (SOA). The aerosol WSOC was further characterized using ultrahigh resolution tandem MS analysis with infrared multiphoton dissociation to determine the functional groups and structural properties of 1700 WSOC species up to m/z 600. Due to the complex nature of the WSOC, multiple precursor ions were simultaneously fragmented. The exact mass measurements of the precursor and product ions facilitated molecular formula assignments and matching of neutral losses. The most important neutral losses are CO2, H2O, CH3OH, HNO3, CH3NO3, SO3 and SO4. The presence and frequency of these losses indicate the type of functional groups contained in the precursor structures. Consistent with the acidic nature of WSOC compounds, the most frequently observed losses were CO2 (~65%), H2O (~60%) and CH3OH (~40%). Several of the studied precursors had two or more losses associated with them and combinations of neutral losses such as, H4O2, CH2O3, C2H4O3 and C2O4. These neutral losses clearly indicate a multifunctional nature of the studied aerosol WSOC. Analysis of the fragment ions which were not associated with typical neutral losses indicates an overall aliphatic SOA-like structure with regular differences of 14 Da and 18 Da between low molecular weight fragment ions. Many of the fragment ions were observed in 85% or more of the MS2 spectra. The patterns observed in the low molecular weight fragment ions were very consistent over all of the mass spectra providing evidence for the significance of the non-oxidative accretion formation pathways.

Publisher's Statement

Publisher's version of record: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013AGUFM.A33I..04M

Publication Title

Fall Meeting 2013