This paper reports a detailed study of the internal energy distribution of ions formed by four electrospray ionization (ESI)-related ionization methods, with particular emphasis on electrosonic spray ionization (ESSI). Substituted benzylpyridinium ions were used as thermometer ions to probe the internal energy distribution. The influence of different instrumental parameters was studied. Cone and skimmer voltages as well as the collision energy were found to strongly affect the ion internal energy distribution, whereas the distance between the emitter and the inlet of the mass spectrometer, the nebulizing gas pressure or the flow rate showed no influence. The internal energy distribution obtained with an ESSI source was compared with those obtained for electrospray (ESI), nanoelectrospray (nanoESI) and sonic spray ionization (SSI) on the same mass spectrometer with the same instrumental parameters. No clear differences were observed. As the charge residue model is the only ion formation mechanism possible for SSI, we conclude that benzylpyridinium ions are formed by the pathway suggested by this model.
(c) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.