Gas chromatography, coupled with mass spectrometry, is an analytical technique that separates out volatile components from a mixture, allowing the detection of each component in turn (see chromatogram below). It is the most successful method of analysis for traditional paint media, such as oils, alkyd resin, egg tempera, resins, proteins and waxes.
GC-MS requires sample removal. It is a destructive analytical technique (to the sample), thus it is usually the last technique used within an analytical pathway.
The results are interpreted and presented in a report (see example of results below).
Discuss the possibility of undertaking GC/MS with a conservator. Analysis is undertaken in collaboration with staff from the University of Melbourne Chemistry Department.
Image: Chromatogram of oil paint sample