Characterization of kerogens by matrix‐assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectroscopy

Chun‐Zhu Li, Alan A. Herod*, Phillip John, Chris A. F. Johnson, John E. Parker, Gerry P. Smith, Paul Humphrey, John R. Chapman, Mukhlis Rahman, Robert R. F. Kinghorn, Rafael Kandiyoti, D. E. Games

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Two kerogen samples from shales of different geological age, selected from each of Types I, II and III, have been characterized by matrix‐assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectroscopy (MALDI‐MS). A Kratos Kompact MALDI III time‐of‐flight mass spectrometer equipped with a nitrogen laser operated at 337 nm was used on samples mounted in a matrix of sinapinic acid. The spectrometer was used in linear mode with a mass range up to 270 000 u and an ion extraction voltage of 20 kV. Individual spectra from 50 laser shots at low laser fluence were summed for each spectrum. The present study is a first attempt at characterizing kerogens by MALDI‐MS. At low mass (200–500 u) families of peaks consisting of overlapping homologous series of apparently polar compounds have been observed: these peaks appear to be distinct from those due to the matrix material. In higher mass regions of the spectra, continua of masses extending from 1000 u up to around 10 000 u were observed; ions at higher masses were separated to baseline up to masses of 50 000 u. Evidence was found for a relationship between the minimum laser power sufficient for activating the MALDI‐ionization process and the geological age of the kerogens; the laser power decreased as the geological age increased. In the case of one kerogen, a high laser fluence was used to generate molecular ions up to the detection limit of the mass spectrometer, in excess of 260 000 u. This paper presents results from a preliminary study of kerogens which requires an in‐depth examination of the desorption process in complex mixtures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-828
Number of pages6
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemistry


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