HPLC/APCI mass spectrometry of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons by using hydrocarbon solvents as the APCI reagent and HPLC mobile phase

Jinshan Gao, Benjamin C. Owen, David J. Borton, Zhicheng Jin, Hilkka I. Kenttämaa

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Saturated and unsaturated, linear, branched, and cyclic hydrocarbons, as well as polyaromatic and heteroaromatic hydrocarbons, were successfully ionized by atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) using small hydrocarbons as reagents in a linear quadrupole ion trap (LQIT) mass spectrometer. Pentane was proved to be the best reagent among the hydrocarbon reagents studied. This ionization method generated different types of abundant ions (i.e., [M + H] +, M++, [M- H]+ and [M- 2H]++), with little or no fragmentation. The radical cations can be differentiated from the even-electron ions by using dimethyl disulfide, thus facilitating molecular weight (MW) determination. While some steroids and lignin monomer model compounds, such as androsterone and 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde, also formed abundant M++ and [M+H]+ ions, this was not true for all of them. Analysis of two known mixtures as well as a base oil sample demonstrated that each component of the known mixtures could be observed and that a correct MW distribution was obtained for the base oil. The feasibility of using this ionization method on the chromatographic time scale was demonstrated by using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with hexane as the mobile phase (and APCI reagent) to separate an artificial mixture prior to mass spectrometric analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-822
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2012



  • APCI
  • HPLC
  • Hydrocarbon reagents
  • Hydrocarbon solvents
  • Saturated hydrocarbons

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