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Detection and identification of sugar alcohol sweeteners by ion mobility spectrometry



Thomas Forbes, Edward Sisco, Christopher Browne


The rapid and sensitive detection of sugar alcohols sweeteners was demonstrated using ion mobility spectrometry (IMS). IMS provides a valuable compromise in sensitivity, cost, and analysis speed between centralized liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) laboratory facilities and point-of-measurement disposable colorimetric sensors, for the Food and Nutrition industry's quality control and other "foodomics" area needs. The IMS response, characteristic signatures, and limits of detection for erythritol, pentaerythritol, xylitol, inositol, sorbitol, mannitol, and maltitol were evaluated using precise inkjet printer deposited samples. IMS system parameters including desorption temperature, scan time, and swipe substrate material were examined and optimized, demonstrating a strong dependence on the physicochemical properties of the respective sugar alcohol. The desorption characteristics of each compound were found to dominate the system response and overall sensitivity. Sugar alcohol components of commercial products - chewing gum and a sweetener packet - were detected and identified using IMS. IMS demonstrates an advantageous field deployable instrument, easily operated by non-technical personnel, and enabling sensitive point-of-measurement quality assurance for sugar alcohols.
Analytical Methods


Ion mobility spectrometry, Sugar alcohols, Alternative sweeteners, Artificial sweeteners, Thermal desorption


Forbes, T. , Sisco, E. and Browne, C. (2016), Detection and identification of sugar alcohol sweeteners by ion mobility spectrometry, Analytical Methods, [online],, (Accessed June 15, 2024)


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Created June 22, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021