Screening of gunshot residues using desorption electrospray ionisation-mass spectrometry (DESI-MS)

Marie Morelato, Alison Beavis, Anthony Ogle, Phlip Doble, Kenneth Kirkbride, Claude Roux

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    53 Citations (Scopus)


    Several studies have indicated that there are potential environmental sources of particles resembling inorganic primer found in gunshot residues (GSR); as a consequence examiners are reluctant to unambiguously assign the origin of inorganic particles. If organic gunshot residues (OGSR) were found in combination with inorganic particles, the possibility of environmental sources could be potentially eliminated, thereby significantly enhancing the strength of the evidence.Methods have been previously described whereby GSR specimens can be analysed for the presence of OGSR or inorganic GRS (IGSR). However, no methods have been reported that allow the analysis of both OGSR and IGSR on the same specimen.Described in this article is a direct method using desorption electrospray ionisation-mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) for the detection of methyl centralite (MC), ethyl centralite (EC) and diphenylamine (DPA) on adhesive tape GSR stubs typically used for scanning electron microscopy-energy-dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX) analysis. The optimisation of numerous parameters was conducted using an experimental design. The results indicate that direct analysis of these organic components of GSR is possible although some limitations were also identified.This initial investigation has also indicated that subjecting stubs to DESI analysis does not interfere with subsequent SEM-EDX analysis of primer residues; therefore the technique described herein allows a comprehensive examination of GSR that would be highly probative in the event that both OGSR and IGSR are detected in the same specimen.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-106
    Number of pages6
    JournalForensic Science International
    Issue number1-3
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2012


    • Desorption electrospray ionisation-mass spectrometry (DESI-MS)
    • Diphenlyamine (DPA)
    • Ethyl centralite (EC)
    • Evidence
    • Experimental design
    • Forensic science
    • Gunshot residues (GSR)
    • Methyl centralite (MC)
    • Scanning electron microscopy-energy-dispersive X-ray detector (SEM-EDX)


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