A fast and accurate ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionisation quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-ESI-Q-TOF-MS/MS) method was developed for the separation and structural elucidation of fluorescent carbon nanoparticles (CNP). The CNP was synthesised from microwave-assisted pyrolysis of citric acid (CA) and 1,2-ethylenediamine (EDA). By using UPLC separation, the CNP product was well separated into ten fractions within 4.0 min. Based on high-accuracy MS and MS/MS analyses, the CNP species were revealed to display six kinds of chemical formulas, including (C10H20N4O5)n, (C8H12N2O5)n, (C16H22N4O9)n, (C6H8O7)n, (C14H18N2O11)n, and (C14H16N2O10)n. In particular, our study revealed for the first time that the CNP species exist as supramolecular clusters with their individual monomers units linked together through non-covalent bonding forces. These findings clearly indicated the usefulness of UPLC-ESI-Q-TOF-MS/MS in identifying the chemical composition of CNP product. It is anticipated that our proposed methodology can be applied to study the structure-property relationships of CNP, facilitating in the production of CNP with desirable spectral features.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Environmental Chemistry
- Carbon nanoparticles
- Non-covalent supramolecular clusters