When Chemistry Stops and Physics Begins

Posted by Norman Fraley on December 07, 2016

Norman Fraley, Principal Chemist Eurofins - Lancaster Laboratories

I hate derivatization. That being said, I love derivatization. What is there not to love about such an elegant chemical reaction where the purpose is to create something new from reagents you have just so you can see it and measure it better? Is your target compound thermally unstable? Derivatize it. Not volatile enough? Derivatize it. Your detector cannot see it well? Derivatize it. Is it too volatile? Yes, you guessed right – derivatize it. In my 30 years of analytical chemistry I have not found a more handy technique, although that does not mean it is simple or easy.

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Solving a Growing Problem in a Budding Industry

Posted by Paul Johnson on December 05, 2016

The abuse of synthetic cannabinoids by teenagers, young adults, and the homeless population has led to thousands of hospitalizations and overdose deaths over the past several years. These compounds are sold by international manufacturers and imported legally into the U.S. due to the synthesis of banned substance variants outpacing the DEA’s ability to identify them. We recently learned that the synthetic cannabinoid problem extends into to the business of legal cannabis production. A number of growers in the Pacific Northwest have been caught spraying their harvests with these synthetic compounds to increase the perceived potency of their products. Consumer safety is at risk while states like Washington, Oregon, and others work towards consensus on testing requirements and standardization of methods.     

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What Do Forensics and Real Estate Have in Common?  Location, Location, Location

Posted by Paul Johnson on November 28, 2016

Being an Austin based company, we’re all too familiar with how location impacts real estate value (and property tax). The rash of designer drug overdoses over the past year have highlighted the value of knowing the location of chemical bonds in isomeric compounds. Forensic scientists have shared their frustration in trying to positively identify variants of synthetic cannabinoids, amphetamines, and cathinones (aka bath salts). Characterization of these compounds by GC-MS can be problematic because of the difficulty in forming useful molecular ions and generating mass spectra that can differentiate between structural isomers.

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A Very Memorable Gulf Coast Conference 2016

Posted by Paul Johnson on November 01, 2016

As the calendar turns into November, it’s hard to believe that the annual conference took place three weeks ago. This was a memorable year for VUV Analytics due to both our platinum sponsorship of the golf tournament and several scientific talks describing how VUV spectroscopy has been utilized in fuel and environmental applications. The golf tournament that officially kicked off the conference was well attended, and everyone seemed to enjoy the spectacular weather and lively awards dinner that concluded the event. There were five talks and one poster showcasing VUV detection: 

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A Very Vanilla Blog

Posted by Paul Johnson on September 21, 2016


It’s always interesting when market forces, industry needs, and scientific research coincidentally converge.  I happened to be reading this article about the worldwide vanilla shortage in Chemical and Engineering News just as the first vanilla data generated by GC-VUV was shared with me.  The lab of Dr. Kevin Schug at University of Texas at Arlington has been in the process of developing a rapid GC method for separating natural and synthetic vanilla components.

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