Electron ionization induced fragmentation pathways of trichloroanisole

Mendes, Mónica; Bou-Debes, Daniel; Eden, Samuel; Bundaleski, Nenad; Teodoro, Orlando M. N. D.; Cornetta, Lucas M. and Ferreira da Silva, Filipe (2023). Electron ionization induced fragmentation pathways of trichloroanisole. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics(37) pp. 25361–25367.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1039/d3cp02019c


Trichloroanisole (TCA) is one of the most significant contaminants in cork stoppers. The presence of TCA leads to an unpleasant odor known as “cork taint”, resulting in high economic losses for the cork and wine industries. Hence, the detection, quantification, and characterization of TCA are essential to address this concern. The present study investigates the electron-driven fragmentation pathways of TCA through electron ionization mass spectrometry as a function of electron energy (0–100 eV), and the results are supported by theoretical characterization of ionization potentials, dissociation thresholds, and electron ionization cross sections. The appearance energies of ten cations were measured, including the first experimental evaluation of the molecule's ionization energy at 8.8 ± 0.3 eV, in excellent agreement with the calculations (8.83 eV). For lower energies, around 20 eV, the parent cation accounted for more than 60% of the total ion signal, followed by its demethylated fragment. Taken together, these ion signals could be used as fingerprints of TCA in industrial quality control by low-energy electron ionization mass spectrometry. Fifty other fragments have been identified at higher electron energies, revealing the very rich fragmentation pattern of TCA.

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