Site-specific carbon isotope composition of organic compounds can provide useful information on their origin and history in natural environments. Site-specific isotope analyses of small amounts of organic compounds (sub-nanomolar level), such as short-chain carboxylic acids and amino acid analogues, have been performed using gas chromatography/pyrolysis/isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC/pyrolysis/IRMS). These analyses were previously limited to volatile compounds. In this study, site-specific carbon isotope analysis has been developed for non-volatile aromatic carboxylic acids at sub-micromolar level by decarboxylation using a continuous flow elemental analysis (EA)/ pyrolysis/IRMS technique. Benzoic acid, 2-naphthylacetic acid and 1-pyrenecarboxylic acid were pyrolyzed at 500-1000°C by EA/pyrolysis/IRMS to produce CO2 for δ13C measurement of the carboxyl group. These three aromatic acids were most efficiently pyrolyzed at 750°C. Conventional sealed-tube pyrolysis was also conducted for comparison. The δ13C values of CO2 generated by the continuous flow technique were within 1.0‰ of those performed by the conventional technique, indicating that the new continuous flow technique can accurately analyze the carbon isotopic composition of the carboxyl group in aromatic carboxylic acids. The new continuous flow technique is simple, rapid and uses small sample sizes, so this technique will be useful for characterizing the isotopic signature of carboxyl groups in organic compounds.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry