Quasi-simultaneous acquisition of hard electron ionization and soft single-photon ionization mass spectra during GC/MS analysis by rapid switching between both ionization methods: Analytical concept, setup, and application on diesel fuel.
This work describes the realization of rapid switching between hard electron ionization (EI) and soft single-photon ionization (SPI) integrated in a compact orthogonal acceleration time-of-flight mass spectrometer. Vacuum-ultraviolet (VUV) photons of 9.8 eV (126 nm) emitted from the innovative electron-beam-pumped rare-gas excimer light source (EBEL) filled with argon are focused into the ion chamber by an ellipsoidal mirror optic for accomplishing of SPI. This novel orthogonal acceleration time-of-flight mass spectrometer with switching capability was hyphenated to one-dimensional gas chromatography (GC) and comprehensive two-dimensional (2D) gas chromatography (GC × GC) for the first time. Within this demonstration study, a maximum switching frequency of 80 Hz was applied for investigation of a mineral-oil-type diesel sample. This approach allows the quasi-simultaneous acquisition of complementary information about the fragmentation pattern (EI) as well as the molecular mass (SPI) of compounds within a single analysis. Furthermore, by application of a polar GC column for separation, the SPI data can be displayed in a 2D contour plot, leading to a comprehensive 2D characterization (GC × MS), whereas the typical group-type assignment for diesel is also met.