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Transmission Geometry Laser Desorption Atmospheric Pressure Photochemical Ionization Mass Spectrometry for Analysis of Complex Organic Mixtures

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journal contribution
posted on 18.11.2014 by Leonard Nyadong, Mmilili M. Mapolelo, Christopher L. Hendrickson, Ryan P. Rodgers, Alan G. Marshall
We present laser desorption atmospheric pressure photochemical ionization mass spectrometry (LD/APPCI MS) for rapid throughput analysis of complex organic mixtures, without the need for matrix, electric discharge, secondary electrospray, or solvents/vaporizers. Analytes dried on a microscope slide are vaporized in transmission geometry by a laser beam aligned with the atmospheric pressure inlet of the mass spectrometer. The laser beam initiates a cascade of reactions in the region between the glass slide and MS inlet, leading to generation of reagent ions for chemical ionization of vaporized analyte. Positive analyte ions are generated predominantly by proton transfer, charge exchange, and hydride abstraction, whereas negative ions are generated by electron capture or proton transfer reactions, enabling simultaneous analysis of saturated, unsaturated, and heteroatom-containing hydrocarbons. The absence of matrix interference renders LD/APPCI MS particularly useful for analysis of small molecules (<2000 Da) such as those present in petroleum crude oil and petroleum deposits. [M + H]+ and M+• dominate the positive-ion mass spectra for olefins and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, whereas saturated hydrocarbons are observed mainly as [M – H]+ and/or M+•. Heteroatom-containing hydrocarbons are observed predominantly as [M + H]+. [M – H] and M–• are the dominant negative ions observed for analytes of lower gas-phase basicity or higher electron affinity than O2. The source was coupled with a 9.4 T Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer (FTICR MS) to resolve and identify thousands of peaks from Athabasca bitumen heavy vacuum gas oil distillates (400–425 and 500–538 °C), enabling simultaneous characterization of their polar and nonpolar composition. We also applied LD/APPCI FTICR MS for rapid analysis of sodium and calcium naphthenate deposits with little to no sample pretreatment to provide mass spectral fingerprints that enable reliable compositional characterization.

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