Headspace analysis of new psychoactive substances using a Selective Reagent Ionisation-Time of Flight-Mass Spectrometer

W. Joe Acton, Matteo Lanza, Bishu Agarwal, Simone Jürschik, Philipp Sulzer, Kostiantyn Breiev, Alfons Jordan, Eugen Hartungen, Gernot Hanel, Lukas Märk, Christopher Mayhew, Tilmann D. Märk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
334 Downloads (Pure)


The rapid expansion in the number and use of new psychoactive substances presents a significant analytical challenge because highly sensitive instrumentation capable of detecting a broad range of chemical compounds in real-time with a low rate of false positives is required. A Selective Reagent Ionisation-Time of Flight-Mass Spectrometry (SRI-ToF-MS) instrument is capable of meeting all of these requirements. With its high mass resolution (up to m/Δm of 8000), the application of variations in reduced electric field strength (E/N) and use of different reagent ions, the ambiguity of a nominal (monoisotopic) m/z is reduced and hence the identification of chemicals in a complex chemical environment with a high level of confidence is enabled. In this study we report the use of a SRI-ToF-MS instrument to investigate the reactions of H3O+, O2+, NO+ and Kr+ with 10 readily available (at the time of purchase) new psychoactive substances, namely 4-fluoroamphetamine, methiopropamine, ethcathinone, 4-methylethcathinone, N-ethylbuphedrone, ethylphenidate, 5-MeO-DALT, dimethocaine, 5-(2-aminopropyl)benzofuran and nitracaine. In particular, the dependence of product ion branching ratios on the reduced electric field strength for all reagent ions was investigated and is reported here. The results reported represent a significant amount of new data which will be of use for the development of drug detection techniques suitable for real world scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-38
JournalInternational Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Early online date22 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • PTR-MS
  • New psychoactive substances
  • Drug detection
  • Branching ratios


Dive into the research topics of 'Headspace analysis of new psychoactive substances using a Selective Reagent Ionisation-Time of Flight-Mass Spectrometer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this