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Use of Gas Chromatography with Tandem Ultra Violet and Mass Spectrometric Detection for the Analysis of Emerging Drugs. Application to Synthetic Cathinones and Fentanyl Analogues

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2018
129 pages

This Final Research Report presents the results and methodology of a project whose goal was to establish gas chromatography (GC) with simultaneous vacuum ultraviolet and cold electron ionization mass spectrometric detection (GC-cold EI MS/VUV) as a viable method for the analysis of emerging drugs, notably synthetic cathinones and fentanyl.


The report concludes that the use of GC-cold EI MS/VUV would have a significant impact on the criminal justice system by providing streamlined analysis, which would increase the likelihood of a correct identification of a seized drug and provide simultaneous quantitative analysis. The acquisition of retention time, diagnostic mass fragments, including molecular ion, and a complementary VUV spectrum will decrease the likelihood of a false identification. The highly specific VUV spectra are valuable for distinguishing between positional isomers, for which MS analysis can be lacking. VUV detection is an essential alternative to flame ionization detection for screening and quantitation, since it provides both qualitative information and precise and accurate quantitation. This technology is particularly useful for analyzing emerging drugs for which there is a wide range of similar drugs. GC with simultaneous cold EI MS and VUV detection can positively affect the backlog of substances for testing by simultaneously screening and/or identifying and quantitating emerging drugs. This report describes the project design, methods used, and data analysis. 178 figures, 13 tables, and 3 references

Date Published: December 1, 2018