Theory of peak coalescence in fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry

Ivan A. Boldin, Eugene N. Nikolaev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Peak coalescence, i.e. the merging of two close peaks in a Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) mass spectrum at a high number of ions, plays an important role in various FTICR experiments. In order to describe the coalescence phenomenon we would like to propose a new theory of motion for ion clouds with close mass-to-charge ratios, driven by a uniform magnetic field and Coulomb interactions between the clouds. We describe the motion of the ion clouds in terms of their averaged drift motion in crossed magnetic and electric fields. The ion clouds are considered to be of constant size and their motion is studied in two dimensions. The theory deals with the first-order approximation of the equations of motion in relation to dm/m, where dm is the mass difference and m is the mass of a single ion. The analysis was done for an arbitrary inter-cloud interaction potential, which makes it possible to analyze finite-size ion clouds of any shape. The final analytical expression for the condition of the onset of coalescence is found for the case of uniformly charged spheres. An algorithm for finding this condition for an arbitrary interaction potential is proposed. The critical number of ions for the peak coalescence to take place is shown to depend quadratically on the magnetic field strength and to be proportional to the cyclotron radius and inversely proportional to the ion masses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3213-3219
Number of pages7
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


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