Fragmentation (chemistry)

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It is a phenomenon used in mass spectrometry to find the structural formula of a molecule through mass spectrum analysis, process called structural elucidation.

It can occur in the ion source (in-source fragmentation) where it is generally not a desired effect. Ion source conformation is an important criterium in the level of fragmentation observed.

IUPAC definition

Breakdown of a material to particles regardless of the mechanism and the size of fragments.

Note: Modified from ref.[1] in order to remove size limitation.[2]

Desired fragmentation is made in the collision zone (post-source fragmentation) of a tandem mass spectrometer. It is a part of gas phase ion chemistry and there are different types of mass fragmentation:

Schemes of fragmentation[edit]

The certain structures favour fragmentation the α-cleavage and the McLafferty rearrangement are two examples for the often observed fragmentations.

Other schemes includes Heterocyclic ring fission (HRF) or Retro Diels-Alder (RDA).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Plastics. Guide for vocabulary in the field of degradable and biodegradable polymers and plastic items. BSI. 2006. ISBN 0 580 49611 2. 
  2. ^ "Terminology for biorelated polymers and applications (IUPAC Recommendations 2012)". Pure and Applied Chemistry: 377–410. 2012. doi:10.1351/PAC-REC-10-12-04. 

External links[edit]