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Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

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The studies discussed here that measured the constituents of latent fingerprints usually used gas chromatography- mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to identify the specific chemical compounds present in these prints and these results demonstrate the potential of GC-MS to monitor the ageing of fingerprints. Previous research in the above sections has shown that the composition of fingerprint residues is too variable to allow any prediction about the age of fingerprints within reasonable boundaries [Archer et al. 2005; Weyermann et al. 2010]. However, these papers showed that a study into the relative amounts of intrinsic residue components may help towards developing a reliable method for predicting the age of a fingerprint. GC-MS is suitable not only because of its sensitivity, but also because it is widely available and easy to use.

The GC-MS is a chromatographic separation technique that is commonly used for the separation and identification of volatile compounds [McMaster 2011]. It merges the features of gas chromatography (GC) and mass spectrometry (MS) to separate using chromatography and identify using mass spectroscopy different substances in a heterogeneous sample. This instruments is suitable for a wide range of applications in the forensic sciences including fire and arson investigation, drug analysis, environmental analysis,
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This distinct property of compounds exploited by the MS, can be used to identify it. Hence, the GC and MS components together can be used for the identification of compounds whereas a stand-alone GC or MS machine will not. It is extremely unlikely that two different compounds will behave in the same way in both a GC and a MS. Therefore, a mass spectrum along with a characteristic retention time, typically helps identify a compounds with a lower possibility of
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