Standard Article

Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry in Analysis of Chemicals Related to the Chemical Weapons Convention

Chemical Weapons Chemicals Analysis

  1. Robert W. Read,
  2. Robin M. Black*

Published Online: 15 SEP 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0408.pub2

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Read, R. W. and Black, R. M. 2011. Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry in Analysis of Chemicals Related to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. 1–36.

Author Information

  1. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Salisbury, UK

  1. *

    © Crown copyright 2011. Published with the permission of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory on behalf of the Controller HMSO.

    Update based on original article by Robin M. Black and Robert W. Read, Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry, © 2000, UK Crown Copyright.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2011


Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) is the direct coupling of a chromatographic separation of analytes dissolved in a liquid phase with mass spectrometric detection/identification. Analytes are separated by one or more mechanisms, usually involving hydrophobic, polar, or ionic interactions. The components eluting from the liquid chromatography (LC) are introduced directly into the mass spectrometer via an interface, which removes the solvent and ionizes the analyte molecules to produce positive or negative ions. These ions are separated by the mass spectrometer on the basis of their mass-to-charge (m/z) ratios. The availability of versatile and robust interfaces, that use atmospheric pressure ionization (API) (atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) and electrospray ionization (ESI)), has led to widespread application of LC/MS to the analysis of chemical warfare-related chemicals.

Although LC/MS can be used for the direct analysis of chemical warfare agents in aqueous samples, its major application in this field is for the analysis of hydrolysis products of chemical warfare agents, and other polar degradation products and precursors. Reversed-phase LC/MS provides a rapid screening procedure for hydrolysis products such as phosphonic acids and thiodiglycol, avoiding the tedious isolation and derivatization required for gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Increased structural information for unequivocal identification, or improved limits of detection (LODs) in trace analysis, can be obtained using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). LC/MS/MS is particularly useful for detecting biological markers of poisoning by chemical warfare agents.