Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hilkka I Kenttämaa

Committee Member 1

Scott A McLuckey

Committee Member 2

Mahdi Abu-Omar

Committee Member 3

Chengde Mao


Mass spectrometry has found a wide variety of applications in many fields of study, such as fundamental chemistry, biological science, food and fuels, advanced materials, etc. Due to its high sensitivity, selectivity and speed, mass spectrometry provides an invaluable tool for direct mixture analysis. When coupled with separation methods, such as gas chromatography or high performance liquid chromatography, analysis of minor components in complex mixtures is possible. In addition to the molecular weight information, mass spectrometers can provide structural information for the ionized analyte molecules. However, mass spectrometric analysis of complex mixtures is not without challenges, such as suitable evaporation/ionization methods are not readily available for different types of samples. For example, because of such limitations, little is known about the molecular weight or structural information of asphaltenes, which are the heaviest components of crude oil and one of the most complex mixtures in nature. Characterization of asphaltenes at the molecular level can alleviate some of the problems they cause to petroleum industry and facilitate the discovery of beneficial uses for asphaltenes.