Automated Derivatization and Identification of Controlled Substances via Total Vaporization Solid Phase Microextraction (TV-SPME) and Gas Chromatography-mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)
Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is one of the most widely used instrumental techniques for chemical analyses in forensic science laboratories around the world due to its versatility and robustness. The most common type of chemical evidence submitted to forensic science laboratories is seized drug evidence, the analysis of which is largely dominated by GC-MS. Despite this, some drugs are difficult or impossible to analyze by GC-MS under normal circumstances. For these drugs, derivatization can be employed to make them more suitable for GC-MS. In Chapter 1, the derivatization of primary amino and zwitterionic drugs with three different derivatization agents, trifluoroacetic anhydride (TFAA); N,O-bis(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide + 1% trimethylchlorosilane (BSTFA + 1% TMCS); and dimethylformamide dimethylacetal (DMF-DMA), is discussed. The chromatographic performance was quantified for comparison between the derivatives and their parent drugs. Peak symmetry was compared using the asymmetry factor (As), separation efficiency was measured by the number of theoretical plates (N), and sensitivity was compared by measuring the peak areas. In Chapter 2, derivatization techniques were adapted for an automated on-fiber derivatization procedure using a technique called total vaporization solid phase microextraction (TV-SPME). TV-SPME is a variation of SPME in which a small volume of sample solution is used which can be totally vaporized, removing the need to consider the equilibrium between analytes in the solution and analytes in the headspace. By allowing derivatization agent to adsorb to the SPME fiber prior to introduction to the sample vial, the entire derivatization process can take place on the fiber or in the headspace surrounding it. The use of a robotic sampler made the derivatization procedure completely automated. In Chapter 3, this on-fiber derivatization technique was tested on standards of 14 controlled substances as well as on realistic samples including simulated “street meth”, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) in mixed drinks, and hallucinogenic mushrooms, and was also tested on several controlled substances as solid powders. Future work in this area is discussed in Chapter 4, including adapting the method to toxicological analyses both in biological fluids and in hair. Some of the expected difficulties in doing so are discussed, including the endogenous nature of GHB in the human body. The presence of natural GHB in beverages is also discussed, which highlights the need for a quantitative addition to the method. Additional method improvements are also discussed, including proposed solutions for complete derivatization of more of the analytes, and for decreasing analysis time.
Goodpaster, Purdue University.
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