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Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Paired with Total Vaporization Solid-Phase Microextraction as a Forensic Tool

NCJ Number
Jove-Journal of Visualized Experiments Volume: 171 Dated: 2021
Date Published

This article explains how gas chromatography mass spectrometry paired with total vaporization solid phase microextraction can be used as a forensic tool.


Total Vaporization Solid Phase Microextraction (TV-SPME) completely vaporizes a liquid sample while analytes are sorbed onto a SPME fiber. This enables partitioning of the analyte between only the solvent vapor and the SPME fiber coating. Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) is a frequently used technique for the analysis of numerous analytes of forensic interest, including controlled substances, ignitable liquids, and explosives. GC-MS can be coupled with Solid-Phase Microextraction (SPME), in which a fiber with a sorptive coating is placed into the headspace above a sample or immersed in a liquid sample. Analytes are sorbed onto the fiber, which is then placed inside the heated GC inlet for desorption. Total Vaporization Solid-Phase Microextraction (TV-SPME) uses the same technique as immersion SPME but immerses the fiber into a completely vaporized sample extract. This complete vaporization results in a partition between only the vapor phase and the SPME fiber without interference from a liquid phase or any insoluble materials. Depending upon the boiling point of the solvent used, TV-SPME allows for large sample volumes (e.g., up to hundreds of microliters). On-fiber derivatization may also be performed using TV-SPME. TV-SPME has been used to analyze drugs and their metabolites in hair, urine, and saliva. This simple technique has also been applied to street drugs, lipids, fuel samples, post-blast explosive residues, and pollutants in water. This paper highlights the use of TV-SPME to identify illegal adulterants in very small samples (microliter quantities) of alcoholic beverages. Both gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) were identified at levels that would be found in spiked drinks. Derivatization by a trimethylsilyl agent allowed for conversion of the aqueous matrix and GHB into their TMS derivatives. Overall, TV-SPME is quick, easy, and requires no sample preparation aside from placing the sample into a headspace vial. (publisher abstract modified)


Date Published: January 1, 2021