Matrix-Assisted Ionization of Molecular Uranium Species [component]

Matrix-assisted ionization (MAI) demonstrates high sensitivity for a variety of organic compounds; however, few studies have reported the application of MAI for the detection and characterization of inorganic analytes. Trace-level uranium analysis is important in the realms of nuclear forensics, nuclear safeguards, and environmental monitoring. Traditional mass spectrometry methods employed in these fields require combinations of extensive laboratory chemistry sample preparation and destructive
more » ... ionization methods. There has been recent interest in exploring ambient mass spectrometry methods that enable timely sample analysis and higher sensitivity than what is attainable by field-portable radiation detectors. Rapid characterization of uranium at nanogram levels is demonstrated in this study using MAI techniques. Mass spectra were collected on an atmospheric pressure mass spectrometer for solutions of uranyl nitrate, uranyl chloride, uranyl acetate, and uranyl oxalate utilizing 3-nibrobenzonitrile as the ionization matrix. The uranyl complexes investigated were detectable, and the chemical speciation was preserved. Sample analysis was accomplished in a matter of seconds, and limits of detection of 5 ng of uranyl nitrate, 10 ng of uranyl oxalate, 100 ng of uranyl chloride, and 200 ng of uranyl acetate were achieved. The observed gas-phase speciation was similar to negative-ion electrospray ionization of uranyl compounds with notable differences. Six matrix-derived ions were detected in all negative-ion mass spectra, and some of these ions formed adducts with the uranyl analyte. Subsequent analysis of the matrix suggests that these molecules are not matrix contaminants and are instead created during the ionization process.
doi:10.1021/jasms.0c00305.s001 fatcat:q3fm5atkfbc2bpsypx76mlng4m