Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Chemistry

Content Description

1 online resource (xx, 289 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Rabi A Musah

Committee Members

Andrew J Dane, Michael Yeung, Mehmet Yigit


Chemometrics, DART-HRMS, Endangered Species Identification, Novel Psychoactive Substances, Plant-based Legal Highs, Quantification, High resolution spectroscopy, Mass spectrometry, Chemistry, Forensic, Thermal analysis, Gas chromatography, Extraction (Chemistry), Multivariate analysis, Hallucinogenic plants, Macaws

Subject Categories

Analytical Chemistry | Chemistry


Forensic science is the application of science to the law which in and of itself covers a substantial number of disciplines. Many of these involve the detection and identification of materials using analytical techniques. Traditional analysis methods include microscopy, spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. The materials encountered by forensic practitioners are ever evolving, resulting in the need to develop new methods to complement conventional techniques to enhance the evidentiary value of the samples. The research presented here shows that novel methods including direct analysis in real time–high-resolution mass spectrometry (DART-HRMS), thermal desorption coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS), solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and multivariate statistical analysis can be used separately or in combination to aid in the recognition and classification of a range of forensically relevant materials.First, a survey of some of the most common traditional techniques for the analysis of forensic materials is presented in Chapter 1 along with an introduction to more recently developed techniques that are the subject of this research. SPME-facilitated DART-HRMS in combination with multivariate statistical analysis and TD-GC-MS was used to identify novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) (Chapter 2) and plant-based legal highs (Chapter 3). In Chapter 4, direct sample analysis by DART-HRMS was used to quantify psychoactive material in plant-based legal highs and in Chapter 5 the same method was used to achieve species-level identification of endangered species of macaws. This research shows how new approaches can be used to facilitate the detection and identification of a range of forensically relevant molecules and materials in a manner that enhances their evidentiary value.