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Mass Spectral and Chemometric Analysis for the Detection and Identification of Forensically Relevant Materials

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This dissertation discusses the use of mass spectral and chemometric analysis for the detection and identification of forensically relevant materials.


This dissertation demonstrates that novel methods including direct analysis in real time–high-resolution mass spectrometry (DART-HRMS), thermal desorption coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TDGC-MS), solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and multivariate statistical analysis can be used separately or in combination to aid in the recognition and classification of a range of forensically relevant materials. First, a survey of some of the most common traditional techniques for the analysis of forensic materials is presented in Chapter 1 along with an introduction to more recently developed techniques that are the subject of this research. SPME-facilitated DART-HRMS in combination with multivariate statistical analysis and TD-GC-MS was used to identify novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) (Chapter 2) and plant-based legal highs (Chapter 3). In Chapter 4, direct sample analysis by DART-HRMS was used to quantify psychoactive material in plant-based legal highs and in Chapter 5 the same method was used to achieve species-level identification of endangered species of macaws. This research shows how new approaches can be used to facilitate the detection and identification of a range of forensically relevant molecules and materials in a manner that enhances their evidentiary value.

Date Published: January 1, 2021