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Advanced Organic Chemistry: Mass spectrum of ethanoic acid

The mass spectrum of ethanoic acid (acetic acid)

Doc Brown's Chemistry Advanced Level Pre-University Chemistry Revision Study Notes for UK IB KS5 A/AS GCE advanced A level organic chemistry students US K12 grade 11 grade 12 organic chemistry courses involving molecular spectroscopy analysing mass spectra of ethanoic acid

mass spectrum of ethanoic acid fragmentation pattern of m/z m/e ions for analysis and identification of ethanoic acid image diagram doc brown's advanced organic chemistry revision notes 

Ethanoic acid C2H4O2  (c) doc b , (c) doc b , (c) doc b , (c) doc b

Interpreting the mass spectrum of ethanoic acid

[M]+ is the molecular ion peak (M) with an m/z of 60 corresponding to [C2H4O2]+, the original ethanoic acid molecule minus an electron, [CH3COOH]+.

The small M+1 peak at m/z 61, corresponds to an ionised ethanoic acid molecule with one 13C atom in it i.e. an ionised ethanoic acid molecule of formula 13C12CH4O2

Identifying the species giving the most prominent peaks (apart from M) in the fragmentation pattern of ethanoic acid.

(m/e) m/z value of [fragment]+ 45 43 42 29 15
[molecular fragment]+ [COOH]+ [CH3CO]+ [CH2CO]+ [HCO]+ [CH3]+

Explaining the principal fragments of the mass spectrum of ethanoic acid

The formation of the two most abundant ions arises from a C-C and a C-O bond scission

Formation of m/z 45 ion: [CH3COOH]+  ===>  [COOH]+  +  CH3

Formation of m/z 43 ion: [CH3COOH]+  ===>  [CH3CO]+  +  OH

The m/z 43 ion is the base peak, the most stable fragment.

m/z 60 [CH3COOH]+ and m/z 43 [CH3CO]+ can break down forming the m/z 15 [CH3]+ ion.


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