For Fourier transform mass spectrometry analysis of high mass ions, the signals from closely spaced isotope peaks undergo periodic destructive interference, producing a beat pattern in the time-domain signal. The mass spectra that are obtained by sampling transient signals for less than two beat periods exhibit an error in the relative abundances that are measured. This effect is shown to cause significant errors in the measurement of the relative abundances of the components of polymer distributions, leading to errors in the derived average molecular weights for such samples. Computer simulations show that isotope beating causes this error to increase as the duration of an acquired transient becomes short compared to the beating period. This error becomes insignificant when the transient is acquired for longer than twice the beat period. Experimental data are presented for polymers in which an oligomeric distribution of monoisotopic peaks is produced by stored waveform inverse Fourier transform ejection of all 13C-containing isotope peaks. The data show that the isotope beating-induced abundance errors are eliminated when there are no isotope peaks present.

J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom.

Easterling, M. L., Amster, I. J., van Rooij, G. J., & Heeren, R. (1999). Isotope beating effects in the analysis of polymer distributions by Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometry. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom., 10, 1074–1082.