Nitramine Anion Fragmentation: A Mass Spectrometric and Ab Initio Study

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The fragment ion formation characteristics of the radical anions generated from hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitrotriazine (RDX) and its three nitroso metabolites were studied using GC/MS with negative chemical ionization (NCI) to understand the fragmentation mechanisms responsible for the formation of the most abundant ions observed in their NCI mass spectra. Ab initio and density functional theory calculations were used to calculate relative free energies for different fragment ion structures suggested by the m/z values of the most abundant ions observed in the NCI mass spectra. The NCI mass spectra of the four nitramines are dominated by ions formed by the cleavage of nitrogen-nitrogen and carbon-nitrogen bonds in the atrazine ring. The most abundant anions in the NCI mass spectra of these nitramines have the general formulas C2H4N3O (m/z 86) and C2H4N3O2 (m/z 102). The analyses of isotope-labeled standards indicate that these two ions are formed by neutral losses that include two exocylic nitrogens and one atrazine ring nitrogen. Our calculations and observations of the nitramine mass spectra suggest that the m/z 86 and m/z 102 ions are formed from either the (M{single bond}NO)- or (M{single bond}NO2)- fragment anions by a single fragmentation reaction producing neutral losses of CH2N2O or CH2N2O2 rather than a set of sequential reactions involving neutral losses of HNO2 or HNO and HCN. © 2007 American Society for Mass Spectrometry.




Florián, J., Gao, L., Zhukhovskyy, V., MacMillan, D. K., & Chiarelli, M. P. (2007). Nitramine Anion Fragmentation: A Mass Spectrometric and Ab Initio Study. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 18(5), 835–841.

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