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GC-MS Spectral Interpretation class room course
1 Day Course | GC-MS Level 3

This course provides the basic knowledge required for the interpretation of unknown spectra. Starting from first principles, it introduces the fundamental chemistry of mass spectrometry and builds up to an examination of the most frequently encountered fragmentation patterns. This course is not instrument-specific and is suitable for anyone involved in mass spectrometry, from the analysts who wants to obtain good spectral data to the lab manager who needs to understand spectral interpretation in order to validate that data.

  • We limit numbers to 20 per course so that each delegate gets the opportunity to ask questions and fully participate in tutorial exercises
  • When delivered on-site we can design the course material to suit your specific training needs
  • Customisable written assessments are available if required
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download course pdfA course designed to highlight the possibilities of GC analysis with mass spectral detection from a qualitative point of view. Systematically analyse a mass spectrum to elucidate the underlying structural information.

Who is this course for
Users of GC-MS equipment, or anyone interested in structural elucidation by GC-MS.

Previous knowledge
A good working knowledge of the technique is required and previous attendance to our level 1 or 2 GC-MS courses is recommended. A basic knowledge of organic chemistry is advantageous but not essential.

What you will learn

  • How to optimise instrument and method parameters to obtain high quality spectral data
  • Ionisation and fragmentation mechanisms in GC-MS
  • Logical evolution of an ‘Interpretation Toolkit’ with a multitude of practice spectra with worked solution on which to practise new skills
  • The fundamental spectral interpretation toolkit, and how to use it when confronted with the mass spectrum of an unknown

Basic Chemistry

  • Review of the chemistry of ions, electrons and radicals and isotopes vital to understanding of molecular fragmentation and ionisation
  • The principles of isotopic normalisation

Interpretation Rules

  • General appearance
  • Isotopic abundances
  • Isotopic normalisation
  • Common ion series
  • Rings and double bonds
  • The nitrogen rule
  • Logical (illogical) neutral molecular losses
  • Logical (illogical) neutral fragment losses
  • Ion stability

Principles of ionisation

  • Techniques and impact on ionisation and fragmentation of Electron Impact (EI) and Chemically Induced (CI) ionisation mechanisms

Interpretation Practice

  • At all points during the course, practice spectra are given to highlight and allow the student to learn the principles under investigation
  • The course ends with practice exercises on several spectra to confirm overall understanding

Fragmentation Mechanisms

  • Homo and heterolytic fission
  • Alpha cleavage
  • Inductive cleavage
  • McLafferty rearrangement and ortho effects
  • Retro Diels-Alder reactions


Training Calendar

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Isotopic abundances

Isotopes are atoms with the same atomic number but different atomic weight.  The difference in weight between isotopes of the same element is caused by a difference in the number of neutrons.  The relative abundance of an isotope in nature compared to other isotopes of the same element is relatively constant.

The isotopic abundances of the elements can be classified into three general categories:

  • "A":  Elements with one natural isotope in appreciable abundance.
  • "A+1":  Elements with two natural isotopes, the second being one mass unit heavier than the most abundant isotope.
  • "A+2":  Elements with two natural isotopes, the second being two mass units heavier than the most abundant isotope.

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