Highly resolved online organic-chemical speciation of evolved gases from thermal analysis devices by cryogenically modulated fast gas chromatography coupled to single photon ionization mass spectrometry.
Multi-dimensional analysis (MDA) in analytical chemistry is often applied to improve the selectivity of an analytical device and, therefore, to achieve a better overview of a sample composition. Recently, the hyphenation of thermogravimetry with single photo ionization mass spectrometry (TG-SPIMS) using an electron beam pumped excimer lamp (EBEL) for VUV radiation was applied. The concept of MDA has been realized by upgrading the TG-SPIMS system with a quasi comprehensive chromatographic separation step before the soft ionization (TG-GCxSPIMS). The system was characterized by the thermal analysis of diesel fuel, which has often been investigated by the GCxGC-community and is therefore a well-known sample material in MDA. Data from this measurement are used to explain the three-dimensional data structure and the advantages of the online TG-GCxSPIMS as compared to TG-SPIMS. Subsequently, the thermal decomposition behavior of a polymer, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), is investigated. TG-GCxSPIMS provides a two-dimensional analysis of the evolved gaseous products. TG relevant data are obtained as well as an improved resolution power to separate isobaric molecular structures without losing any fraction of the samples, as is often the case in heart cutting approaches. Additionally, this solution is not associated with any extension of the measurement time. The assignment of the substance pattern to distinct species is improved as compared to solely using mass spectrometry without a preceding separation step. Furthermore, hitherto undetected compounds have been found in the evolved gases from the thermal degradation of ABS. Finally, a first estimation of the limit of detection has been carried out. This results in a significant decrease of the LOD in case of TG-GCxSPIMS (500 ppt for toluene) as compared to 30 ppb, which could be reached with TG-SPIMS.