Pesticide analysis by pulsed flow modulation GCxGC-MS with Cold EI—an alternative to GC-MS-MS

Uri Keshet, Paulina Goldshlag, Aviv Amirav*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explored the use of pulsed flow modulation (PFM) two-dimensional comprehensive gas chromatography (GCxGC) mass spectrometry with supersonic molecular beams (SMB) (also named Cold electron ionization (EI)) for achieving universal pesticide analysis in agricultural products. The use of GCxGC serves as an alternative to MS-MS in the needed reduction of matrix interference while enabling full-scan MS operation for universal pesticide analysis with reduced number of false negatives. Matrix interference is further reduced with Cold EI in view of the enhancement of the molecular ions. Pulsed flow modulation is a simple GCxGC modulator that does not consume cryogenic gases while providing tuneable second GCxGC column injection time for enabling the use of quadrupole-based mass spectrometry regardless its limited scanning speed. PFM-GCxGC-MS with Cold EI combines improved separation of GCxGC with Cold EI benefits of tailing-free ultra-fast ion source response time and enhanced molecular ions for the provision of increased sample identification information and reduced matrix interference. Consequently, PFM GCxGC-MS with Cold EI also improved NIST library identification probabilities of the spiked pesticides. PFM GCxGC is further characterized by largely increased second column sample and matrix capacity that as a result performs much better than thermal modulation GCxGC-MS with standard EI in the suppression of matrix interference. In a comparison with standard GC-MS, we measured with PFM GCxGC-MS with Cold EI an average total ion count matrix interference reduction factor of 32 for 12 pesticides in two matrices of baby leaves mixture and lettuce. In addition, Cold EI further increases the range of pesticides amenable for GC-MS analysis and its response is relatively uniform hence with it the need for pesticides specific calibration is reduced. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5507-5519
Number of pages13
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • Cold EI
  • GCxGC
  • GCxGC-MS
  • Pesticide analysis
  • Pulsed flow modulation
  • Supersonic molecular beams


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