Analyzing Volatile Organic Compounds on Fine Aerosols with Comprehensive Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography-Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (Gcxgc-Tofms)

Project Details


Gas chromatography (GC) has been shown as a suitable technique to analyze atmospheric trace gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to high separation efficiency with the modern-day capillary columns of various chemical properties. The coupling of GC with mass spectrometry (MS) for detection makes compound identification unrivaled by other detection means. The advent of comprehensive two-dimensional GC (GC×GC) first appeared two decades ago takes the separation power to the next level by adding a second column to greatly enhance peak capacity of chromatography through orthogonal separation on a two-D surface. Due to its powerful separation capabilities, it has been widely used in petroleum, fragrance and environmental disciplines. However, this extremely powerful technique has not yet been widely utilized in atmospheric research to address issues of primary and secondary pollutants with relevance of health effect, surface ozone and PM2.5. Therefore, this project is aimed to develop novel GC×GC/MS techniques to analyze VOCs composition in ambient air and on fine aerosols at trace level. It is expected that key compounds identified by MS can provide useful information of source signature and advance knowledge of photochemistry. Two methods will be undergone development. To analyze ambient VOCs, thermal desorption (TD) will be coupled to GC×GC/ToFMS to allow enrichment prior to entering GC to enhance sensitivity by lowering the detection limit by an order of 3-5 to < 0.5 ppb (v/v). This method of TD-GC×GC/ToFMS will also be used to analyze filter paper of PM2.5 for the organic matter (OC). For the remaining organic matter of low volatility, solvent extraction will be performed before analyzed by GC/ToFMS. A fairly large portion of research resources has been devoted to aerosol studies in Taiwan to address the haze problem, however very limited effort by comparison is given to the organic composition of aerosols due to the lack of adequate methodologies. As a result, our effort can greatly change the status quo and fill the knowledge gap that is in dire need in the aerosol science community.
Effective start/end date1/08/1831/07/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • particulate matter
  • aerosols
  • comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC)
  • time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ToFMS)
  • thermal desorption (TD)


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