Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Phosphorus and methamphetamine

A great idea, all this time, and no comments. Well, fellow mass spectrometrists of the world, I've got some new things to talk (write, type, blog) about.

Short side note, anyone ever hear a hissing noise comming from the torch box. It's not an electrical arc or I just can't see one. I have produced an electrical arc on the torch itself before and gave it a nice melted dimple. This noise seems to be something else, almost sounds like gas or water blowing out a small hose, but I think if that was the case, things wouldn't be working as well as they have been. No visible damage or drift caused by noise.

Next up, I just got word that I will be analyzing some samples from a meth lab bust. I'll be looking for phosphorus. I imagine I'll find some since the samples are taken from powder made by grinding up match heads. So, I don't think I'll have any actual meth in the lab, sorry. I know detection limits are crappy, like 1ppm, anyone know about any interferences or any other problems analyzing phosphorus.

Methamphetamine has quite a history. It's a farely new drug, first synthesized in 1919 in Japan. It was distributed during WWII to Nazi soldiers as a stimulant. In the 50's it saw such uses as a cure for narcolepsy, post-encephalitic parkinsonism, alcoholism, depression, and obesity. What a wonder drug back then. Made illegal sometime in the 80's when its recreational use started up.
Easily made by even non-chemists from pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, various different procedures found in chemistry journals or sketchy websites. There is a wealth of information found on Wikipedia (who checks the facts on this website?)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Message board

My original idea was to create a message board where mass spec researchers and analysts could discuss trouble shooting. I suggested it to the company which makes the mass spec I work with, but I havn't recieved any reply and didn't really expect it.

So, I'm taking it upon myself. I am currently an environmental chemist using mass spectrometry to analyze water and sediment samples for metals. The mass spec I use uses a quadrupole to filter the ions and it also has a type of collision cell that all the companies are putting out now. The collision cell is supposed to reduce interferents by colliding the interferents with other gas molecules supplied into the collision cell. It also has kinetic energy discrimination which uses some various lens voltages within the collision cell to limit the range of kinetic energies in the ion beam coming out of the collision cell.

I've got everything working pretty well after battling for 6 to 8 months. But I still have some elusive problems which is why I'm creating this blog, or message board.

Anybody analyze Arsenic in salt water with a collision cell? I can't get rid of some interferent at mass 75 which gives me a constant result of 6 - 10ppb in salt water samples that are confirmed having less arsenic by a optical method (ICP emission.) I can discuss a lot more if anybody else knows anything about this.