Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry

, Volume 29, Issue 9, pp 1861–1869 | Cite as

Determining Energies and Cross Sections of Individual Ions Using Higher-Order Harmonics in Fourier Transform Charge Detection Mass Spectrometry (FT-CDMS)

  • Conner C. Harper
  • Andrew G. Elliott
  • Haw-Wei Lin
  • Evan R. WilliamsEmail author
Focus: Application of Photons and Radicals for MS: Research Article


A general method for in situ measurements of the energy of individual ions trapped and weighed using charge detection mass spectrometry (CDMS) is described. Highly charged (> 300 e), individual polyethylene glycol (PEG) ions are trapped and oscillate within an electrostatic trap, producing a time domain signal. A segmented Fourier transform (FT) of this signal yields the temporal evolution of the fundamental and harmonic frequencies of ion motion throughout the 500-ms trap time. The ratio of the fundamental frequency and second harmonic (HAR) depends on the ion energy, which is an essential parameter for measuring ion mass in CDMS. This relationship is calibrated using simulated ion signals, and the calibration is compared to the HAR values measured for PEG ion signals where the ion energy was also determined using an independent method that requires that the ions be highly charged (> 300 e). The mean error of 0.6% between the two measurements indicates that the HAR method is an accurate means of ion energy determination that does not depend on ion size or charge. The HAR is determined dynamically over the entire trapping period, making it possible to observe the change in ion energy that takes place as solvent evaporates from the ion and collisions with background gas occur. This method makes it possible to measure mass changes, either from solvent evaporation or from molecular fragmentation (MSn), as well as the cross sections of ions measured using CDMS.

Graphical Abstract


Charge detection mass spectrometry Ion mobility Ion energy Megadalton Collision cross section MS^n Harmonics Fourier transform 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under CHE-1609866. The authors thank Professor Martin F. Jarrold for helpful discussions and Professor Ryan R. Julian for his innovative contributions to science.

Supplementary material

13361_2018_1987_MOESM1_ESM.docx (40 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 40 kb)


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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Conner C. Harper
    • 1
  • Andrew G. Elliott
    • 1
  • Haw-Wei Lin
    • 1
  • Evan R. Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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