The analysis of nail polish can be useful to gain information about a suspect, victim at a crime scene, or help link individuals to other locations. While current techniques have been employed for this analysis, a study to complement and enhance these techniques has been performed on a variety of nail polishes using Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) with mass spectrometry. The unique ambient ionization DART source allows little to no sample preparation and analysis of the polish can occur directly from different substrates. Initial analysis was performed with twelve different polish samples applied to individual glass slides that were inserted directly into the DART source. Multiple scans were performed for each sample to monitor desorbed ions in both positive and negative mode. The mass spectral data collected from the DART-MS will be presented to show common and unique ions between the types of polish analyzed. Comparisons will be made to determine if differentiation between the brand of nail polish or different types of nail polish in the same brand is possible. Analysis of this type is relatively non-destructive for evidence, which is a highly sought after quality in forensic analyses. This type of analysis will then be compared to a known type of forensic analysis, Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography (PGC) with mass spectrometry for the twelve samples. PGC is a destructive analysis with no chance of recovery of the original sample. Finding an alternate method (DART-MS) to analyze such samples has the potential for time and cost savings with respect to trace evidence for forensic laboratories.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2013


Darrin L. Smith

Mentor Department Affiliation


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Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level