Using our LabSyft software, we determined a concentration of iron pentacarbonyl of 6 ppm (by volume) in what was ostensibly high-purity carbon monoxide sample.

 

Vaughan Langford Syft Technologies Director - Applications & Marketing

Dr. Vaughan Langford

BSc(Hons), PhD


Principal Scientist / Consultant

Vaughan joined Syft in 2002 after completing his PhD in Physical Chemistry at the University of Canterbury (1997) and post-doctoral fellowships at the Universities of Geneva, Western Australia, and Canterbury.

As manager of Syft’s contract laboratory, Vaughan has worked extensively with customers to understand their analysis needs and develop market-tested SIFT-MS solutions.

Vaughan has experience across all SIFT-MS application areas, but has particular expertise in environmental and food industry applications. He is an expert in SIFT-MS application and method development.

In addition to the technical aspects of his role, Vaughan attends and presents on many of Syft’s webinars and attends various conferences on our behalf.


When carbon monoxide (CO) is stored under high pressure in a steel gas cylinder, it reacts slowly to form iron pentacarbonyl (Fe(CO)5), a volatile impurity. To test this, we obtained a sample of spectroscopic-grade carbon monoxide from the local university’s chemistry department.

Using one of our Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) instruments, we analyzed the sample within seconds using full scan mode.  We observed the characteristic isotopic fingerprint of iron pentacarbonyl for all three positive reagent ions (the negatively charged reagent ions are unreactive). H3O+ reacts with iron pentacarbonyl by the proton transfer mechanism, while NO+ and O2+ both react via the electron transfer mechanism.  Using our LabSyft software, we determined a concentration of iron pentacarbonyl of 6 ppm (by volume) in what was ostensibly high-purity carbon monoxide sample.

CO2 purity

An interesting aside here is that the observed iron pentacarbonyl spectra provide an excellent illustration of just how soft the SIFT-MS chemical ionization is. The dominant peaks in the 70-eV electron impact ionization mass spectrum arise from FeCO+ (m/z 84) and Fe+ (m/z 56), whereas in the SIFT-MS spectra only the parent ion is observed from electron transfer ionization using NO+ and O2+ (Fe(CO)5+, m/z 196) and proton transfer ionization using H3O+ (Fe(CO)5.H+, m/z 197). In SIFT-MS, all CO ligands remain intact!  This ultra-soft ionization is a key factor in the stable, reliable quantitation that is characteristic of SIFT-MS.

For rapid, stable trace gas analysis you can’t surpass SIFT-MS.

Written by Vaughan Langford, Principal Scientist

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