Analytical Chemistry

Glass Surface as Strong Base, ‘Green’ Heterogeneous Catalyst and Degradation Reagent


Systematic screening of accelerated chemical reactions at solid/solution interfaces has been carried out in high-throughput fashion using desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and it provides evidence that glass surfaces accelerate various base-catalyzed chemical reactions. The reaction types include elimination, solvolysis, condensation and oxidation, whether or not the substrates are pre-charged. In a detailed mechanistic study, we provide evidence using nanoESI showing that glass surfaces can act as strong bases and convert protic solvents into their conjugate bases which then act as bases/nucleophiles when participating in chemical reactions. In aprotic solvents such as acetonitrile, glass surfaces act as ‘green’ heterogeneous catalysts that can be recovered and reused after simple rinsing. Besides their use in organic reaction catalysis, glass surfaces are also found to act as degradation reagents for phospholipids with increasing extents of degradation occuring at low concentrations. This finding suggests that the storage of base/nucleophile-labile compounds or lipids in glass containers should be avoided.


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