Instrumental analytical chemistry

The choice of the right instrumentation, the establishment and validation of the best available methods, their integration into in an efficient laboratory workflow under appropriate quality control and operated by experienced and skilled staff are essential for the mission success of a laboratory.

  • We are assisting our clients with the selection and procurement of a suitable instrument park focusing on issues like ease of use (this includes software), future proofing, price/performance ratio, availability of a qualified on-site service and applicability of internationally accepted methods and techniques. While instrument performance specifications are important in decision making there are many other factors that influence a final procurement decision. Our goal is that you get the right equipment to fulfill your mission goals.
  • We provide and assist in method development and validation as well as the establishment and in-house validation of internationally accepted standard methods.

GC-MS (Gas chromatography – Mass spectrometry)

The traditional work-horse for the analysis of chemical warfare agents, their precursors an degradation products is gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In addition to GC-MS(EI) that allows comparison with databases such as the OPCW Central Analytical Database and the NIST library, chemical ionization – GC-MS(CI) – is often used to obtain molecular weight information based on the molecular ion. The use of GC-MS(EI) and GC-MS(CI) is sufficient for compound identification and confirmation in OPCW (environmental) Proficiency Tests and still the most used combination of analytical techniques.

In addition to the standard single quadrupole instruments (ion traps and sector field instruments have been mostly replaced) tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) and multidimensional GC (GCxGC) find applications as well. GC-MS/MS also find important application in the analysis of biotransformation products from biomedical samples.

GC with element specific detectors

Element specific detectors, such as NPD or FID, provide powerful means for screening of samples. A particularly useful detector is an atomic emission detector (AED) coupled to a GC. Detection of compounds containing elements usually encountered in CW agents (P, S, As, Cl, F) can be easily achieved with very high sensitivity and excellent selectivities.

LC-MS(/MS) (Liquid chromatography – (tandem) Mass spectrometry)

Liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry is the prime analytical technique in the analysis of biomarkers and metabolites in biomedical samples (usually either blood/plasma or urine).

HRMS (High-resolution mass spectrometry)

HRMS realized with Q-TOF or Orbitrap instruments allows a much higher mass spectral resolution than with other interments (which normally provide united resolution). This higher resolution yields additional information, e.g. the accurate mass of the compound of interest that can be used to deduce its elemental compositon. Combined with a technique that yields information on bonding and connectivities this particularly useful for identification of unknowns.

NMR (Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy)

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy is not only a highly valuable method during the screening process but also very useful as a method for compound identification. Due to its completely different detection principle compared to mass spectrometry NMR is a perfectly orthogonal analytical technique. This adds additional credibility to a compound confirmation via a second analytical technique other than e.g. GC-MS(EI) combined with GC-MS(CI).

NMR is able to reveal atom connectivity. In combination with high resolution mass spectral data this is highly valuable for structure elucidation of unknown chemicals of interest.

Other instrumentation

There are of course other useful instruments. Some of them with more niche or specialized applications. Examples include FTIR and Raman spectroscopy, ICPMS and XRF for inorganic analysis, ion chromatograph and FPLC as separation techniques.