Department of Chemistry

The Forensic Chemistry Lab/ Instruments


History

The construction of the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory was completed in December 2005. It consists of a suite of six adjoining laboratories and office space within a total area of 2600 sq. ft. The Main Forensic Laboratory (1100 sq. ft.) contains a wide range of analytical and forensic instrumentation. Off of the main laboratory area are a Gas Storage Room, a Fire Debris Analysis Laboratory, and a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) room. An additional adjoining laboratory area exists as an Automation Laboratory. The forensic chemistry laboratory is a multipurpose work area where graduate and undergraduate forensic laboratory course instruction and research are carried out. The laboratory is a mirror to the physical setup and function of a professional forensic laboratory. The forensic chemistry laboratory is a multipurpose work area where graduate and undergraduate forensic laboratory course instruction and research are carried out. It "mirrors" the physical setup and function of a professional forensic laboratory. Its instrumentation is up-to-date and typical of such laboratories.

The Main Forensic Laboratory

The main laboratory contains the equipment shown below. In addition, it contains a chemical fume hood with storage space for flammable materials, an instructional area and an optical microscopy area. The laboratory is equipped with a Dräger hydrogen gas detection system and a Simplex smoke detection system. The backs of the laboratory benches open onto aisles, which allow ready access to power, data, gas and vacuum pump utilities. All equipment is connected to the University's network via personal computers.

  • Hewlett Packard Gas Chromatography (GC) with Flame Ionization Detector (FID), Model 6890.



    Since the FID is extremely sensitive for detection of trace compounds, with low detection limits, and a broad dynamic range, and is an important GC detector for hydrocarbons. This instrument is one of the central components of our Forensic Laboratory and we have five (5) of these models total.

  • Hewlett Packard Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Detector, Model 6890 with a 5972A, selective mass detector.



    This HP GC/MS instrument is an analytical workhorse, and includes a high-efficiency electron impact ionization source and quartz quadrupole mass filter. This instrument is another one of the central components of our Forensic Laboratory and we have five (5) of these models total.

  • Finnigan GCQ: Ion trap mass spectrometer coupled to a GC.


    It gives the opportunity to analyze a mixture of compounds in electron impact ionization (EI) or chemical ionization (CI) modes. Either positive or negative ions can be detected, which can be used for structure elucidation. In addition a direct insertion probe is available for the analysis of pure compounds.

  • Perkin Elmer TurboMatrix110 Headspace Sampler coupled to a Clarus 500 Gas Chromatograph.


    This instrument routinely performs static headspace analysis in forensic laboratories for blood alcohol analysis, and because blood alcohol results must be validated in court, GC/FID detectors must be capable of absolute identification

  • Nicolet Infrared Spectrometer, Model 560.


    This instrument is one three IRs in our laboratory.

  • Foster + Freeman, Visual Spectral Comparator (VSC2000).


    This instrument is a multifunctional imaging system/questioned documents workstation. Applications include examining security features and color coordinates, as well as the detection of irregularities for altered and counterfeit evidence. The instrument employs light in the ultra-violet, visible, and near infrared spectral regions of the spectrum.

  • PerkinElmer 2400 Series II CHNS/O Elemental Analyzer.


    This instrument is a leading organic elemental analyzer, and is used for rapid determination of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur and oxygen content in organic compounds.

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The Fire Debris Laboratory



This application-specific laboratory is dedicated to the analysis of fire debris. It contains a Hewlett Packard 6890 gas chromatographic system and is ventilated via the main venting system.

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The Automation Laboratory

This laboratory contains a number of instruments in addition to the RapidTrace Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) robotics system. The Perkin Elmer Lambda 2 visible-ultraviolet spectrometer, a Rainen, High Performance Liquid Chromatographic (HPLC) unit, a NUAIRE bio-hood, a Mettler-Toledo chemical balance, drying oven, explosion proof refrigerator and a chemical safety storage cabinet are also located in this laboratory.

  • A Rainen, High Performance Liquid Chromatographic (HPLC) unit.



  • RapidTrace Solid Phase Extraction robotics system.



    This system can perform low volume extractions and is designed to aid in sample clean up prior to analysis by GC/MS.

  • Perkin Elmer Lambda 2 UV-vis spectrometer.



    This instrument can interrogate between 175 nm and 900 nm wavelength of light for forensic applications such as analysis and characterization of paint, glass, or any UV absorbing compounds.

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The Laboratory Information Management Room

This climate-controlled facility contains seven Dell computers and two printers. The computers are connected to the university's Ethernet; printing, file storage and secure access to the chemistry department's server are managed in this fashion. The PCs in the room have XP operating systems and contains a variety of chemistry-specific software. The purpose of the room is to allow a worker to remotely control the instruments in the laboratory, monitor the progress of the experiments, manipulate the resulting data and compose reports. Specialized software is available to permit remote control of the laboratory instrumentation.

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The Gas Storage Room



The gas storage room is located immediately next to the main laboratory's entrance. It contains tanks of the required gases (air, nitrogen, helium and hydrogen). The room has its own venting system, explosion-proof lighting and a gas filter and manifold delivery system by Scott, Inc. The system features an automatic change-over to a spare tank when the main tank is nearing empty thus insuring a continuous gas supply. The gasses are of purity grade 5. Top

Adjacent Laboratory Space

Additional laboratory space adjoins the Automation Laboratory. This space is dedicated to the teaching of ACHM 417, Advanced Synthesis Laboratory. It is essentially a "wet lab" which contains large amounts of hood space, some instrumentation (Shimadzu 1600 UV-Vis Spectrometer and a Magnum 550 IR Spectrometer) and computer/network access. It is available to forensic chemistry students for special procedures requiring the use of a wet lab.

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