Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC x GC-TOFMS) for drug screening and confirmation

Shin Miin Song, Philip Marriott, Alex Kotsos, Olaf H. Drummer, Paul Wynne

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Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) is applied to analysis of drug standard mixtures containing 78 drugs of interest in forensic samples. For this study, underivatised drugs were employed. While several of the drugs were not detected at the low concentrations employed in the samples, most could be satisfactorily assigned their first and second dimension retentions in the GC×GC retention plane. For this study, time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOFMS) detection was used. The enhanced separation possible in GC×GC is demonstrated, and typical linearity and apparatus precision are shown for tramadol, diazepam, olanzapine and desipramine using selected qualifier ions. Mass spectral library search quality for the detection of drugs in a selection of authentic forensic cases, along with retention position in the 2D retention plane, is used to support positive identification of the presence of the drugs. The analysis of 'difficult' drugs paracetamol and phenytoin is shown to produce anomalous chromatographic peak shape in the 2D plane, whereas most drugs gave acceptable peak shapes. The GC×GC technique was applied to screening drugs in forensic samples, with either flame ionisation (FID) or TOFMS detection, and compared favourably with conventional single column GC-MS analysis when tested for diazepam in an authentic forensic study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-101
Number of pages15
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2004


  • Drug screening
  • GC × GC
  • GC-MS
  • Multidimensional gas chromatography
  • Time-of-flight mass spectrometry
  • Underivatised drugs

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