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The use of DART-MS in forensic chemistry


In 2005, a revolutionary new technique was introduced in which samples could be ionized at ambient atmospheric conditions for the purposes of subsequent high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry analysis1. This instrumental technique, known as Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) allows for mass spectral analysis of complex samples with minimal sample preparation, making it an ideal analytical option for a wide range of sample types.

Since its inception, DART has been utilized in multiple forensic chemistry disciplines, including, but not limited to, drug analysis2,3, explosives analysis4-5, trace evidence analysis,6 and questioned documents examination7. The aim of the literature thesis is to explore the forensic applications of DART-TOF in further detail with particular emphasis on recent advances and improvements.


  1. Cody, R.B., Laramee, J.A., Durst, H.D. Versatile new ion source for the analysis of materials in open air under ambient conditions. Analytical Chemistry, 2005, 77, 2297-2302.
  2. Steiner, R.R., Larson, R.L, Validation of the Direct Analysis in Real Time Source for Use in Forensic Drug Screening, Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2009, 54, 617-622.
  3. Easter, J., Steiner, R.R., Pharmaceutical identifier confirmation via DART-TOF Forensic Science International, 2014, 240, 9-20.
  4. Swider, J.R. Optimizing Accu Time-of-Flight/Direct Analysis in Real Time for Explosive Residue Analysis. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2013, 58, 1601-6.
  5. Sisco, E., Dake, J., Bridge, C. Screening for trace explosives by AccuTOF-DART® : An in-depth validation study. Forensic Science International. 2013, 232, 160-8.
  6. Maric, M., Marano, J., Cody, R.B., Bridge, C., DART-MS: A New Analytical Technique for Forensic Paint Analysis. Analytical Chemistry, 2018, 90, 6877-6884.
  7. Jones, R.W., Cody, R.B., McClelland, J.F.. Differentiating Writing Inks Using Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2006, 51, 915-8.


Basic understanding in forensic chemistry. Familiarity with time-of-flight mass spectrometry and ambient ionization is recommended.


Institute: Virginia Department of Forensic Science
Department: Controlled Substances
Supervisor :  Jennifer Bonetti

UVA Co-assessor : 

Arian van Asten
UVA Coordinator :  Arian van Asten/Yorike Hartman