Automated dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry

Anal Chem. 2014 Apr 15;86(8):3743-9. doi: 10.1021/ac404088c. Epub 2014 Apr 4.


An innovative automated procedure, low-density solvent based/solvent demulsification dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction (automated DLLME) coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis, has been developed. The most significant innovation of the method is the automation. The entire procedure, including the extraction of the model analytes (phthalate esters) by DLLME from the aqueous sample solution, breaking up of the emulsion after extraction, collection of the extract, and analysis of the extract by GC/MS, was completely automated. The applications of low-density solvent as extraction solvent and the solvent demulsification technique to break up the emulsion simplified the procedure and facilitated its automation. Orthogonal array design (OAD) as an efficient optimization strategy was employed to optimize the extraction parameters, with all the experiments conducted auotmatically. An OA16 (4(1) × 2(12)) matrix was initially employed for the identification of optimized extraction parameters (type and volume of extraction solvent, type and volume of dispersive solvent and demulsification solvent, demulsification time, and injection speed). Then, on the basis of the results, more levels (values) of five extraction parameters were investigated by an OA16 (4(5)) matrix and quantitatively assessed by the analysis of variance (ANOVA). Enrichment factors of between 178- and 272-fold were obtained for the phthalate esters. The linearities were in the range of 0.1 and 50 μg/L and 0.2 and 50 μg/L, depending on the analytes. Good limits of detection (in the range of 0.01 to 0.02 μg/L) and satisfactory repeatability (relative standard deviations of below 5.9%) were obtained. The proposed method demonstrates for the first time integrated sample preparation by DLLME and analysis by GC/MS that can be operated automatically across multiple experiments.