Mass spectrometry imaging: the new tool in counterfeit security

The ever-increasing sophistication of the counterfeit trade is a growing economic problem, and when applied to pharmaceuticals, dangerous to human health. More covert strategies are required to combat the trade and US researchers have developed a potentially vital tool in the battle against counterfeiting.

A group at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, led by Vincent Rotello, incorporated gold nanoparticles into ink by straightforward inkjet printing. This ‘barcode’ can be detected in an ambient and non-destructive manner by laser desorption ionisation mass spectrometry imaging – a method to determine the spatial distribution of particles based on their mass. More conventional methods, such as chromatography, require sample destruction for analysis, and non-destructive analytical techniques usually do not give specific chemical information.

Mass-spec-money_c2cc30499f_180_tcm18-216317
Nanoparticle barcode: a mass spectrometry image of different printed gold nanoparticles, overlapping. When scanned, the blue letters of one nanoparticle were detected at m/z = 548; the green letters of another nanoparticle were detected at m/z = 422; and the red pattern from Au+ was detected at m/z = 197

Read the full article in Chemistry World

Link to journal article
Laser desorption ionization mass spectrometric imaging of mass barcoded gold nanoparticles for security applications
B Creran et al
Chem. Commun., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/c2cc30499f

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