Direct Analysis of Thin-Layer Chromatography Separations of Petroleum Samples by Laser Desorption Ionization Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry Imaging

Donald F. Smith, Amy M. McKenna, Yuri E. Corilo, Ryan P. Rodgers, Alan G. Marshall, Ron M. A. Heeren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We present an analytical method for direct analysis of thin-layer chromatography (TLC) separations of petroleum samples by laser desorption ionization (LDI) coupled to Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) imaging. LDI of TLC plates selectively ionizes condensed aromatic hydrocarbons and facilitates two-dimensional imaging of TLC-separated petroleum compounds. Molecular-level characterization available only with ultrahigh-resolution FT-ICR MS provides elemental composition assignment and surpasses conventional TLC readout-based flame ionization detection. Resolution and assignment of migrated molecules targeted by LDI combined with FT-ICR MS provides elemental composition assignment and, therefore, chemical information, i.e., heteroatom class, aromaticity (double bond equivalents), and carbon number. Here, three petroleum samples (a field deposit, a crude oil, and a tar ball) were TLC-separated by their solubility in n-heptane and imaged by LDI FT-ICR MS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6284-6288
JournalEnergy & Fuels
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

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