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Anal Chem. 2018 Aug 7;90(15):8756-8763. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b02043. Epub 2018 Jul 24.

Microprobe for the Thermal Analysis of Crude Oil Coupled to Photoionization Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometry.

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Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology , Novaya Street, 100 , Skolkovo 143025 , Russia.
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology , 141700 Dolgoprudnyi , Moscow Region , Russia.
National Research University Higher School of Economics , 20 Miasnitskaya Ulitsa , Moscow 101000 , Russia.


We present the simple microprobe for the investigation of crude oil by a thermal desorption photoionization coupled to Orbitrap mass spectrometry. The droplet of crude oil was placed on the heating element with controllable temperature. The temperature was linearly increased, and crude oil vapors were ionized by a vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) lamp and detected by Orbitrap mass spectrometer. Use of modified Orbitrap allowed introduction of the heating element and VUV lamp directly into the ion funnel and performing experiment not only at atmosphere pressure but also at 20, 10, and 5 torr. We observed that at high pressure protonated CHN compounds dominate in the spectrum, while at the low pressure CH compounds dominate. Similar to previously reported thermogravimetry coupled to photoionization or chemical ionization mass spectrometry systems we were able to separate compounds with different desorption energy and reliably detect low-abundant compounds. Also, we were able to determine the desorption temperature for each compound of the crude oil. We found that temperature of desorption increases linearly with m/ z for compounds that belong to the same homology series (same Kendrick mass defect). This may serve as indirect evidence that such compounds differ only by the length of aliphatic chains attached to some basic structure.

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