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Analysis of Benzodiazepines by Thermal Desorption Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (TD-DART-MS)



Edward Sisco, Sydney Jones, Ioan Marginean


Novel psychoactive substances (NPS) present a prominent and increasing concern for forensic laboratories across the country. Benzodiazepines, which are one class of NPS, have experienced a growing presence in the United States due, in part, to the increased production and prevalence of counterfeit pharmaceutical tablets. The development of new techniques and new methods that allow for rapid detection and identification of these compounds is required for laboratories to respond to this emerging concern. This work investigates the use of thermal desorption direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry (TD-DART-MS) as a tool for the rapid and sensitive detection of benzodiazepines. A suite of 19 benzodiazepines were investigated to determine their representative responses and sensitivities. Competitive ionization studies highlighted that detection of these compounds in the presence of cutting agents and low amounts of heroin was possible. Additionally, the presence of three complex background matrices that are common in trace detection applications (artificial fingerprint residue, dirt, and plasticizers) were investigated and were shown to have a minimal effect on the detection of these compounds. TD-DART-MS was demonstrated as a potentially powerful tool for rapid on-site or laboratory-based screening.
Analytical Methods


Benzodiazepines, TD-DART-MS, Trace Detection, Drug Analysis


Sisco, E. , Jones, S. and Marginean, I. (2021), Analysis of Benzodiazepines by Thermal Desorption Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (TD-DART-MS), Analytical Methods, [online],, (Accessed March 3, 2024)
Created June 17, 2021, Updated October 14, 2021