19.12: Mass Spectrometry of Amines
In mass spectroscopy, amines undergo fragmentation to give parent ions with odd molecule weights. This observed mass spectrum follows the nitrogen rule: a molecule with an odd number of nitrogen atoms produces a parent ion with an odd molecular weight. The remaining fragments have an even mass.
Amines undergo fragmentation through α cleavage, producing nitrogen-containing cations—iminium ions—and alkyl radicals. Mass spectra of aromatic and cyclic aliphatic amines exhibit strong molecular ion peaks, but acyclic aliphatic amines show weaker molecular ion peaks.