Homeland Security

 

Solid Phase Microextraction (SPME) Products

 

SPME is a technique for taking samples (chemical extraction technique) for organic compounds: explosives, drugs, toxins, arson accelerants and so on.  The technique requires that sample be transported back to a laboratory for analysis but with FFI’s SPME products samples can be reliably taken and transported directly to a laboratory – even if that laboratory is on another continent. SPME extracts without the use of wet chemistry or lab techniques that could take hours or days; with SPME the sample goes directly into a GC-MS (for example) for analysis.

 

CN303R Rev 3Med

Conditioner 1X™ - Model CN303R

SPME fibers require conditioning prior to use and reconditioning after each use to remove contaminants and residual sample. Most SPME users are forced to condition SPME fibers in the injection port of a GC. Since SPME fibers can take up to four hours to condition/recondition, using the GC injection port wastes valuable instrument time.

TuffSyringe™ - Model TS100

TuffSyringe™, Model TS100, is the most durable manual SPME manipulator available. The body of the TuffSyringe™ is constructed of stainless steel - the end caps are made of titanium. Although very rugged, TuffSyringe™ has a slim design and is easily carried in one's shirt or lab coat pocket. The titanium end caps protect the TuffSyringe™ during storage and transport and the Teflon insert envelopes the SPME needle and prevents loss or contamination of the sample or contamination of the SPME fiber. See below for a complete list of TuffSyringe™ model numbers, options, and accessories.

SafePorter™ - Model SP200

SafePorter™, Model SP200, is a field transport container for SPME manual sample holders, syringes, and other samplers. The body of the SafePorter™ is constructed of stainless steel - the end caps are made of titanium. Although very rugged, SafePorter™ has a slim design and is easily carried in one's shirt or lab coat pocket. The titanium end caps protect the SafePorter™ during storage and transport and the Teflon insert envelopes the SPME needle and prevents loss or contamination of the sample or contamination of the SPME fiber. See below for a complete list of SafePorter™ model numbers, options, and accessories.

 

 

Introduction to Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME)

Dr. Janusz Pawliszyn, of the University of Waterloo, was awarded the R&D100 Award in 1994 for his invention of Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME).

At the University of Waterloo in Canada, Professor Janusz Pawliszyn and colleagues invented Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) and with it won the 1994 R&D 100 Award. SPME allows the direct adsorption of many volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds onto a specially coated fiber.  When the SPME sample arrives in the lab, the SPME fiber can be inserted directly into the injection port of a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) or a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system. So, within minutes of arrival at the lab or transportable GC-MS, a definitive answer is ready.  With the invention of SPME and further work by Prof. Pawliszyn’s commercial collaborators, Supelco and Varian, much of the tedious and time-consuming sample preparation work was eliminated for many types of organic compounds analyses.  With the introduction of FFI’s patented rugged SPME devices, the applicability of SPME to field sampling became possible even in the extremely harsh conditions of HAZMAT, fire-fighting and military missions, and in the strict sample-control regimes required by law enforcement agencies in forensic sampling.

 

Solid Phase Micro Extraction Explained

The basic component of the SPME technology is a thin fiber coated in adsorbing polymer housed in a syringe-like device that can expose the fiber and then retract it. A simple explanation of what happens when the sample is taken is that the SPME fiber/polymer reaches equilibrium with the environment in which it finds itself whether this is in air or in liquid, insofar as any volatile or semi-volatile compounds are concerned.  Although there are techniques by which the technician can increase the speed with which a reliable sample can be taken, in most cases the polymer will adsorb the analyte in a few minutes without the sampling technician having to do any kind of physical or mechanical sample preparation.

After collection of the sample, the SPME fiber must be protected such that it does not then lose the adsorbed analyte before the sample can be measured in the laboratory.  FFI’s devices are designed to secure the sample and keep it secure during its transport to the lab or even in the lab if there’s any amount of time between sampling and introduction of the sample into the analytical instrument (e.g. GC/MS).  Samples taken with FFI’s SafePorter and TuffSyringe can even be safely shipped by commercial carrier without having to worry about sample loss or damage to the SPME syringe.

After adsorption of the sample the SPME fiber must be protected such that it does not then lose the adsorbed analyte before the sample can be measured in the laboratory.  FFI’s devices are designed to secure the sample and keep it secure during its transport to the lab.  Samples taken with FFI’s SafePorter and TuffSyringe can even be safely shipped by commercial carrier without having to worry about sample loss or damage to the SPME syringe.

For more detailed information on how SPME works, see the Pawliszyn Research Group SPME research page on the University of Waterloo website, and the text Solid Phase Micro Extraction - Theory and Practice by Professor Pawliszyn is highly recommended. There are also some excellent application notes and other material available on the Supelco website, www.supelco.com.   a bibliography and list of web-links is included at the end of this document.

 

FFI’s SPME Products

FFI offer SPME products for the laboratory and for the field.  The TuffSyringe™ uses Supelco SPME fiber assemblies and offers users a very rugged manual SPME sampler for a very reasonable price.  The  SafePorter™ is designed to protect the Supelco Manual Sample Holder but can also be used with other types of devices.  The Conditioner 1X™ Model CN303R, is the first commercially available SPME conditioner.

 

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