Document Type




First Advisor's Name

José R. Almirall

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Bruce McCord

Third Advisor's Name

Rosemary Hickey-Vargas

Fourth Advisor's Name

Stanislaw Wnuk

Fifth Advisor's Name

Yong Cai


plant material elemental analysis, high resolution ICP-MS, laser ablation, bone and teeth elemental analysis

Date of Defense



The need for elemental analysis of biological matrices such as bone, teeth, and plant matter for sourcing purposes has emerged within the forensic and geochemical laboratories. Trace elemental analyses for the comparison of aterials such as glass by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and laser ablation ICP-MS has been shown to offer a high degree of discrimination between different manufacturing sources. Unit resolution ICP-MS instruments may suffer from some polyatomic interferences including 40Ar16O+, 40Ar16O1H+, and 40Ca16O+ that affect iron measurement at trace levels. Iron is an important element in the analysis of glass and also of interest for the analysis of several biological matrices. A comparison of the nalytical performance of two different ICP-MS systems for iron analysis in glass for determining the method detection limits (MDLs), accuracy, and precision of the measurement is presented. Acid digestion and laser ablation methods are also compared. Iron polyatomic interferences were reduced or resolved by using dynamic reaction cell and high resolution ICP-MS. MDLs as low as 0.03 ìg g-1 and 0.14 ìg g-1 for laser ablation and solution based analyses respectively were achieved. The use of helium as a carrier gas demonstrated improvement in the detection limits of both iron isotopes (56Fe and 57Fe) in medium resolution for the HR-ICP-MS and with a dynamic reaction cell (DRC) coupled to a quadrupole ICP-MS system. The development and application of robust analytical methods for the quantification of trace elements in biological matrices has lead to a better understanding of the potential utility of these measurements in forensic chemical analyses. Standard reference materials (SRMs) were used in the development of an analytical method using HR-ICP-MS and LA-HR-ICP-MS that was subsequently applied on the analysis of real samples. Bone, teeth and ashed marijuana samples were analyzed with the developed method. Elemental analysis of bone samples from 12 different individuals provided discrimination between individuals, when femur and humerus bones were considered separately. Discrimination of 14 teeth samples based on elemental composition was achieved with the exception of one case where samples from the same individual were not associated with each other. The discrimination of 49 different ashed plant (cannabis)samples was achieved using the developed method.





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