Electron Ionization of Imidazole and Its Derivative 2-Nitroimidazole

Rebecca Meißner, Linda Feketeová, Anita Ribar, Katharina Fink, Paulo Limão-Vieira, Stephan Denifl

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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Imidazole (IMI) is a basic building block of many biologically important compounds. Thus, its electron ionization properties are of major interest and essential for the comparison with other molecular targets containing its elemental structure. 2-Nitroimidazole (2NI) contains the imidazole ring together with nitrogen dioxide bound to the C2 position, making it a radiosensitizing compound in hypoxic tumors. In the present study, we investigated electron ionization of IMI and 2NI and determined the mass spectra, the ionization energies, and appearance energies of the most abundant fragment cations. The experiments were complemented by quantum chemical calculations on the thermodynamic thresholds and potential energy surfaces, with particular attention to the calculated transition states for the most important dissociation reactions. In the case of IMI, substantially lower threshold values (up to ~ 1.5 eV) were obtained in the present work compared to the only available previous electron ionization study. Closer agreement was found with recent photon ionization values, albeit the general trend of slightly higher values for the case of electron ionization. The only exception for imidazole was found in the molecular cation at m/z 40 which is tentatively assigned to the quasi-linear HCCNH+/ HCNCH+. Electron ionization of 2NI leads to analogous fragment cations as in imidazole, yet different dissociation pathways must be operative due to the presence of the NO2 group. Regarding the potential radiosensitization properties of 2NI, electron ionization is characterized by dominant parent cation formation and release of the neutral NO radical. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2678-2691
Number of pages14
JournalJournal Of The American Society For Mass Spectrometry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Appearance energy
  • Electron ionization
  • Gas phase
  • Imidazole
  • Nitroimidazole
  • Transition state
  • Unimolecular dissociation


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