Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, or GC/MS analysis, is an analytical method that combines the features of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a sample component matrix.

GC/MS analysis is generally considered one of the most accurate analyses available. It is particularly beneficial for materials where low detection limits are required and can be used to evaluate samples in any size chemical state, even when the sample quantity is limited. 

We use world-class gas chromatography equipment capable of performing two common gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques: thermal desorption and liquid injection. 


GC/MS analysis techniques 

GC/MS can analyze volatile and semi-volatile compounds. Liquid and gas compounds can be analyzed by direct injection into gas chromatography. The samples are vaporized for identification and quantification. Thermal desorption or solvent extraction techniques can be used for solid sample evaluations. 

A small quantity of the sample is consumed during analysis. In rare cases, if more than one substance is under investigation, multiple samples may be required.


VOC & SVOC testing with GC/MS

While GC/MS is used across various applications, it is particularly helpful for detecting volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs or SVOCs. These substances, often regulated by state and national laws, evaporate into the air at very low boiling points. 


Headspace GC/MS

Headspace GC/MS is a specific GC/MS technique used to analyze volatile compounds. A sample is placed in a closed sampling vessel, heated using a known temperature profile, and the vapor in the vessel is sampled for analysis.


Purge & Trap GC/MS

Purge & Trap became a technique that was well-known and widely applied due to the need to monitor VOCs in drinking water. Using this technique, it was possible to detect sub-ppb level VOCs of a wide variety. Today, P&T is routinely applied in the environmental area for the analysis of VOCs in soil and water.

A measured amount of sample is placed in a sealed vessel. The sample is purged with inert gas, causing VOCs to be swept out of the sample. The VOCs are retained in an analytical trap, which allows the purge gas to pass through to the vent. The VOCs are then adsorbed by heating the trap, injected into the GC by backflushing the trap with a carrier gas, and separated and detected by normal GC operation. For aqueous matrices, the increase in efficiency can be upwards of 100-fold, using dynamic versus static headspace analysis.


Additional GC/MS applications

GC/MS analysis has endless applications in material testing, identification, and certification. Additional applications include:

  • Compound separations
  • Compliance certifications
  • Identify and quantify mixtures
  • Outgassing studies
  • Residual analysis
  • Debris/contamination identification
  • Impurities
  • RoHS testing
  • Plastic extractables


The Element advantage 

Our GC/MS analysis program is ISO 17025 accredited and approved by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), allowing us to stay up-to-date on compliance and regulatory requirements to provide you with absolute certainty in your product. 

Element is the partner of choice for complex projects requiring a high level of accuracy and precision. Our experts in US and Asia are highly trained in GC/MS analysis and method development for your specific application. 

To learn more about our GC MS analysis, please contact us today

Our team of over 9,000 Engaged Experts in North America, Europe, The Middle East, Australia, Asia and Africa are ready to help you.