Unfolding of Hydrated Alkyl Diammonium Cations Revealed by Cryogenic Ion Mobility-Mass Spectrometry.
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Hydration of the ammonium ion plays a key role in determining the biomolecular structure as well as local structure of water in aqueous environments. Experimental data obtained by cryogenic ion mobility-mass spectrometry (cryo-IM-MS) show that dehydration of alkyl diammonium cations induces a distinct unfolding transition at a critical number of water molecules, n = 21 to 23, n = 24 to 26, and n = 27 to 29, for 1,7-diaminoheptane, 1,8-diaminooctane, and 1,10-diaminodecane, respectively. Results are also presented that reveal compelling evidence for unique structural transitions of hydrated ammonium ions associated with the development of the hydrogen-bond network around individual charged groups. The ability to track the evolution of structure upon stepwise dehydration provides direct insight into the intricate interplay between solvent-molecule interactions that are responsible for defining conformations. Such insights are potentially valuable in understanding how ammonium ion solvation influences conformation(s) of larger biomolecules.