To be or not to be a molecular ion: The role of the solvent in photoionization of arginine

A. Barrozo, B. Xu, A. O. Gunina, M. Jacobs, K. Wilson, O. Kostko, M. Ahmed, and A. I. Krylov
J. Phys. Chem. Lett.  10, 1860 – 1865 (2019)

Application of photoionization mass spectroscopy, a technique capable of assessing protonation states in complex molecules in the gas phase, is challenging for arginine due to its fragility. We report photoionization efficiencies in the valence region of aqueous aerosol particles produced from arginine solutions at various pH and vaporization conditions. By using ab initio calculations, we investigate the stability of different conformers. Our results show that neutral arginine fragments upon ionization in the gas phase but solvation stabilizes the molecular ion, resulting in different photoionization dynamics. We also report the valence-band photoelectron spectra of the aerosol solutions at obtained at different pH.

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