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Development and full validation of qualitative and quantitative ambient mass spectrometry based methods applied in forensic chemistry

Grant number: 16/01683-2
Support type:Research Grants - Visiting Researcher Grant - International
Duration: July 01, 2016 - June 30, 2017
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Analytical Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Marcos Nogueira Eberlin
Grantee:Marcos Nogueira Eberlin
Visiting researcher: Sebastiaan Frans Teunissen
Visiting researcher institution: Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), Netherlands
Home Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


Forensic science refers to the application of science within the criminal justice system. Forensic science includes many subareas; and within them, forensic chemistry occupies a central position by focusing on the chemical characterization of crime evidence. Crime evidence in forensic chemistry commonly consists of remains found at a crime scene. By determining the chemical composition of evidence, this can help forensic scientists to identify, classify or quantify (components of) evidence. The possibility, ease, detail and speed in which these steps are performed strongly dependents on the available analytical techniques. Techniques that are applicable to various matrices require less specialized scientists, which facilitates the throughput of evidence analyses. Mass spectrometry (MS) is nowadays an indispensable technique that has become extremely common in forensic laboratories. It provides the scientist with detailed molecular information of the evidence. Mass spectrometry analyses, however, generally require (destructive) sample preparation before they are able to analyze a forensic sample. Availability of forensic evidence is generally scarce, which require multiple kinds and types of analyses to be performed on the same evidence. The absence of the necessity of sample preparation in mass spectrometry analysis would therefore be of great benefit for forensic analysis. Ambient mass spectrometry facilitates in this requirement. Ambient MS offers the direct analysis of forensic samples without the need of sample preparation such as extraction. This type of technique in which analytes are desorbed and ionized directly from their natural matrices at ambient conditions, is an ideal and increasingly employed technique in forensic chemistry investigations since it keeps the evidence intact and lowers the risks of contamination or chemical alterations. Detailed chemical composition at the molecular level is obtained with nearly full sample preservation, allowing additional analysis at the same sample. When performed in miniaturized, portable and user-friendly mass spectrometers, ambient MS becomes even more attractive for immediate results that could be obtained directly at a crime scene. Although the advantages and applicability of ambient MS has been clearly demonstrated in numerous proof-of-concept studies, a general acceptance by the scientific community will require fully validated protocols. These protocols are, however, still lacking, despite their high importance. This visiting researcher project will therefore focus on the development and subsequent full validation of a set of ambient MS methods according to the highest possible standards. All data will be published in peer-reviewed journals. This validation will be the ultimate necessary step for the implementation of these ambient MS methods in forensic case work worldwide. This project is a unique collaboration between Thomson mass spectrometry laboratory at Unicamp, The Netherlands Forensic Institute and Purdue University in the USA. This collaboration combines exactly the type of knowledge and expertise that is required for the successful, extensive and smart validation of ambient MS methods in forensic science and the subsequent application of these methods in forensic case work. (AU)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
TEUNISSEN, SEBASTIAAN F.; FEDICK, PATRICK W.; BERENDSEN, BJORN J. A.; NIELEN, MICHEL W. F.; EBERLIN, MARCOS N.; COOKS, R. GRAHAM; VAN ASTEN, ARIAN C. Novel Selectivity-Based Forensic Toxicological Validation of a Paper Spray Mass Spectrometry Method for the Quantitative Determination of Eight Amphetamines in Whole Blood. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MASS SPECTROMETRY, v. 28, n. 12, p. 2665-2676, DEC 2017. Web of Science Citations: 13.
TEUNISSEN, SEBASTIAAN F.; EBERLIN, MARCOS N. Transferring Ions from Solution to the Gas Phase: The Two Basic Principles. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MASS SPECTROMETRY, v. 28, n. 11, p. 2255-2261, NOV 2017. Web of Science Citations: 6.
TEUNISSEN, SEBASTIAAN F.; FERNANDES, ANNA MARIA A. P.; EBERLIN, MARCOS N.; ALBERICI, ROSANA M. Celebrating 10 years of easy ambient sonic-spray ionization. TRAC-TRENDS IN ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY, v. 90, p. 135-141, MAY 2017. Web of Science Citations: 9.

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