Proton affinities of a number of alkyl acetates (CH3–C(=O)–OR) and of methyl alkanoates (R–C(=O)–OCH3, R=H, alkyl) have been assembled from the literature or measured using the kinetic method. It was observed that the proton affinities for the isomeric species CH3–C(=O)–OR and R–C(=O)–OCH3 are almost identical, an unexpected result as the charge in these protonated ester molecules is largely at the keto carbon atom and so this site should be more sensitive to alkyl substitution. Analysis of the data, including those from lone pair ionisation and core-electron ionisation experiments available from the literature, indicate that after protonation, extensive charge relaxation (or polarisation) takes place (as is also the case, according to the literature, after core-electron ionisation). By contrast, after lone pair ionisation, which results in radical cations, such relaxation processes are relatively less extensive. As a consequence, changes in ion enthalpies of these protonated molecules follow more closely the changes in neutral enthalpies, compared with changes in enthalpies of the corresponding radical cations, formed by electron detachment. Preliminary analyses of published energetic data indicate that the above finding for organic esters may well be another example of a more general phenomenon.

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Keywords core-electron ionisation, gas-phase ion chemistry, ion stabilisation, ionisation energy, kinetic method, Proton affinity, tandem mass spectrometry
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Journal European Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Holmes, J.L. (John L), van Huizen, N.A, & Burgers, P.C. (2017). Proton affinities and ion enthalpies. European Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 23(6), 341–350. doi:10.1177/1469066717728451