Section: 8 | Varieties of Hyphenated Gas Chromatography with Mass Spectrometry |
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John R. Rumble, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 102nd Edition (Internet Version 2021), CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL.
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VARIETIES OF HYPHENATED GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY WITH MASS SPECTROMETRY

Thomas J. Bruno

Because of the very powerful and common application of mass spectrometry with gas chromatography, the various technologies warrant more detailed consideration (Refs. 1 to 4). The following table provides basic information on the capabilities and applicability of the most common approaches. Clearly, the use of the single quadrupole is by far the most prevalent and economical method, but the other techniques are important and advantageous. We exclude methods that are typically not interfaced with gas chromatographic separations and that are highly specific in research settings (such as ion cyclotron mass spectrometry, and combined quadrupoles beyond the triple quad, and the various hybrid sector-quad-time of flight-ion trap combinations) that are used in fundamental ion chemistry research. We also exclude magnetic sector instruments that are seldom used with chromatography.

References

  1. March, R. E., and Todd, J. F., Quadrupole Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry, Wiley-Intersceince, New York, 2005. [https://doi.org/10.1002/0471717983]
  2. Portoles, T., Sancho, J. V., Hernandez, A., Newton, A., and Hancock, P., Potential of Atmospheric Chemical Ionizationsource in GC-QTOF for Pesticide Residue Analysis, J. Mass Spectrom. 45, 926, 2010. [https://doi.org/10.1002/jms.1784]
  3. Busch, K. L., Glish, G. L., and McLuckey, S. A., Mass Spectrometry Mass Spectrometry: Techniques and Applications of Tandem Mass Spectrometry, VCH Publishers, New York, 1988.
  4. Wong, P. S., and Cooks, R. G., Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry, Curr. Sep. 16, 85, 1997.

Gas Chromatographic Methods Used with Mass Spectrometry



Method (with accepted acronyms and abbreviations)ModesAdvantagesLimitations
Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry
GC-MS (single quadrupole, SQ)
Scan, selected ion monitoring (SIM) and Scan/SIMRelatively simple and relatively inexpensive; compound identification by library search; dynamic range = 105, but typically limited to >104; mass/charge range = 103 to 104, resolution (at m/z = 1000) 103 to 104 for most ions; well-developed hardware and software; used in standard protocols.Co-elution of compounds compromise library identifications; often user must interpret fragmentation patterns.
SIM mode provides higher sensitivity but for target ions only, sensitivity decreases with increasing number of SIM ions.
Scan/SIM methods must balance scan and SIM sensitivity requirements.
Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
GC-MS (ion trap, IT)
Scan or selected ion monitoring (SIM); tandem MS-MS; gas or liquid chemical ionizationHigh sensitivity, compact design, tandem mass spectrometry is possible; dynamic range = 104, but typically limited to < 104; mass/charge range = 104 to 105, resolution (at m/z = 1000) 104; well-developed hardware and software; used in standard protocols.Space charge effects can lead to relatively poor dynamic range, however, for “clean” samples, the dynamic range can be as high as single quadrupole units; specific libraries are limited; SIM is for target ions only with a sensitivity lower than that obtainable by a SIM analysis via single quadrupole, above; MS-MS analyses are limited to approximately 120 to 150 compounds per analysis; MS-MS analysis is typically slower than that done with a tandem MS-MS (process is done in time rather than space).
Gas Chromatography (time of flight) Mass Spectrometry, low resolution
GC-TOF
Scan or selected ion monitoringIdentification possible with good chromatographic separations, dynamic range = 104, mass/charge range = 105, resolution (at m/z = 1000) 103 to 104.Unit mass resolution limits identification capability; libraries are limited; if chromatographic separation is poor, comprehensive (GCXGC) might be needed; cannot distinguish neutral losses.
Comprehensive Gas Chromatography (time of flight) Mass Spectrometry, low resolution
GCXGC-TOF
Scan or selected ion monitoring; normal column configuration (nonpolar – polar) or reversed column configuration (polar – nonpolar)Identification possible with good chromatographic separations in two dimensions on a nonpolar (long) and a polar (short) column; identification of families with help of principal component analysis tools; dynamic range = 104, mass/charge range = 105, resolution (at m/z = 1000) 103 to 104, well-developed hardware and software; used in standard protocols.Unit mass resolution limits identification capability; libraries are limited; GCXGC may not remedy all aspects of component coelution.
Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (triple quadrupole)
GC-MS(QQQ, or QqQ)
Multiple and selected reaction monitoringProvides product and precursor ion scans; very sensitive for target compounds or functional groups; developed to provide enhanced daughter ion resolution; relatively simple construction with straightforward scanning procedures; no high voltage arcing; dynamic range = 105, mass/charge range = 103 to 104, resolution (at m/z = 1000) 103 to 104.Unit mass, making identification ambiguous due to multiple structures as source of breakdown mass; empirical formula determination can be difficult, spectra and fragmentations must often be interpreted manually; full scan data can be acquired (similar to the single quad procedure) by turning off the collision cell.
Gas Chromatography (time of flight) Mass Spectrometry, high resolution
GC-TOF
Scan or selected ion monitoring, tandem MS-MSMight obviate the need for GCXGC separations with accurate mass determinations; deconvolution software can aid in identification of multiple components under peaks; sensitivity intermediate between multiple reaction monitoring and product ion scan of a QQQ; dynamic range = 104, mass/charge range = 105, resolution (at m/z = 1000) 103 to 104.Very large data files (currently approaching 2 Gb), software is currently developmental.
Gas Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry
GC-QTOF
Scan or selected ion monitoring, tandem MS-MSMight obviate the need for GCXGC separations with accurate mass determinations; isolation of parent ions and subsequent fragmentation provides identification; will detect any daughter ion passed into the TOF; sensitivity intermediate between multiple reaction monitoring and product ion scan of a QQQ dynamic range = 104, mass/charge range = 105, resolution (at m/z = 1000) 103 to 104.Large data files are produced; sophisticated software is needed for processing and deconvolution; requires accurate mass and high resolution.


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