Boron artifacts in mass spectrometry originating from glass bottles

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  • Published: Nov 24, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Raman / Atomic / NMR Knowledge Base / Infrared Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / Proteomics / MRI Spectroscopy / X-ray Spectrometry / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Base Peak

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Unexpected borate complexes detected during the electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry of hydroxy acids were traced to trimethyl borate from borosilicate glass bottles that leached into the methanol being stored.

When the mass spectra of compounds like tartaric, citric and malic acids were recorded in negative-ion mode with methanol as the mobile phase, peaks corresponding to the [2M-4H+B] ion were found in all cases. The phenomenon has been described by Indian scientists in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry and the source of the boron was traced to methanol that had been stored for a relatively long time in a borosilicate glass bottle. Methanol stored in a polypropylene bottle did not give these peaks.

The same peaks were observed during LC/MS analysis under reversed-phase and normal-phase conditions. The latter separation produced extra boron-containing peaks that were attributed to boric acid and mixed clusters.

So, extra precautions should be taken in mass spectrometry experiments that use methanol from borosilicate glass containers as they might produce peaks that interfere with the analysis and confound the analyst.

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