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Integrating the MasSpec Pen with Chemical Ionization for Rapid Chemical Analysis and Forensic Applications

Demonstration of the MasSpec Pen on a sample. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

These researchers previously developed a “MasSpec Pen,” a handheld device integrated with a mass spectrometer for direct analysis and molecular profiling of biological samples. In this article, they develop a new version that can quickly and easily detect and measure compounds, including cocaine, oxycodone and explosives, which can be important in forensics investigations.

Coupling the MasSpec Pen device to a sub-APCI source allowed semiquantitative analysis of the drugs cocaine and oxycodone, the agrochemicals atrazine and azoxystrobin, and the explosives trinitrotoluene and dinitroglycerin in under 20s. Using chemical ionization, improved reproducibility and sensitivity for targeted chemical detection and compound identification was achieved while maintaining the user-friendly features of the hand-held MasSpec Pen device.

The device has also has commercial opportunities for differentiating cancerous cells from normal tissue in real-time during surgeries.

Integrating the MasSpec Pen with Sub-Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization for Rapid Chemical Analysis and Forensic Applications. Analytical Chemistry, 19 May 2021.

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