Surface fitting for calculating the second dimension retention index in comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography mass spectrometry

J Chromatogr A. 2018 Mar 2;1539:62-70. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2018.01.049. Epub 2018 Jan 31.


Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC × GC-MS) has been widely used for analysis of volatile compounds. However, the second dimension retention index (I) of each compound is not widely used to aid compound identification owing to the limited accuracy of I calculation. We report a surface fitting approach to the calculation of I using n-alkanes (C7-C30) as references, where the second dimension retention time (2tR) and the second dimension column temperature (2Te) formed the X-Y plane and the I was the Z-axis to form the I surface. Compared to the conventional approach for calculating I using isovolatility curves, the surface fitting approach eliminated the construction of isovolatility curves for the reference compounds and gives better reproducibility. The goodness of the proposed surface fitting achieved R2 = 0.9999 and RMSE = 6.1 retention index units (iu). Ten-fold cross validation demonstrated the surface fitting approach had a good predictability with average R2 = 0.9999 and RMSE = 6.6 iu. The developed method was also applied to calculate the second dimension retention indices of compound standards in two commercial mixtures MegaMix A and MegaMix B. The mean standard deviation of the calculated I was only 1.6 iu for compounds in MegaMix A and 3.4 iu for compounds in MegaMix B. Compared with the literature results, the small value of standard deviation in the calculated retention index using surface fitting method shows that the surface fitting method has less measurement variability than the conventional isovolatility curve approach.

Keywords: GC × GC–MS; Retention index calculation; Second dimension retention index; Surface fitting.

MeSH terms

  • Alkanes / chemistry
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry*
  • Models, Chemical
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Temperature
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / chemistry


  • Alkanes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds