Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectroscopy (GCMS)
GCMS is a hybrid instrument that uses gas chromatography to separate the components of a mixture and uses mass spectroscopy to identify the components. Gas chromatography (GC) exploits very slight differences in boiling points of materials. Whether the materials are highly volatile (like solvents) or not (like many drugs) even very complex mixtures can be separated using GC. S&N Labs currently uses four different GCs with varying configurations to handle different types of materials.
Mass spectroscopy (MS) works by taking molecules and breaking them into smaller pieces. Since this is done in a consistent and predictable manner, looking at the weights of the fragments and putting the pieces back together allows for identification of molecules even with the same total molecular weight. By running comparisons with known compounds or by comparing the mass spectra with our library of over 500,000 spectra most materials can be identified.
By coupling GC with MS, a complex mixture can be separated into identifiable volatile and semi-volatile components. At each time point, a complete mass spectrum is generated of the materials eluting from the GC column.