This work describes a GC-MS method for enantioselective separation of amino acids. The method is based on a derivatization reaction which employs a mixture of alkyl chloroformate-alcohol-pyridine, as reagents to obtain the N(O,S)-alkyl alkoxy carbonyl esters of amino acids. Various reaction parameters are investigated and optimized to achieve a reproducible derivatization procedure suitable for separation of amino acid enantiomers on Chirasil-L-Val chiral stationary phase. In particular, the following topics are investigated for 20 proteinogenic amino acids: (i) the proper reagent and reaction conditions to obtain the highest derivative yield; (ii) the amino acid reactivity and the MS properties of the obtained derivatives; (iii) the linearity and sensitivity of the analytical method; (iv) the retention behavior of the derivatives and their enantiomeric separation on the Chirasil-L-Val chiral stationary phase. By combining the resolution power of the Chirasil-L-Val column and the high selectivity of the SIM MS detection mode, the described procedure enables the enantiomeric separation and quantification of 16 enantiomeric pairs of amino acids. The procedure is simple and fast and reproducible. It displays a wide linearity range at ppb detection limits for quantitative determinations: these properties make this derivatization method a suitable candidate for amino acid GC-MS analysis on board of the spacecrafts in space exploration missions of solar system body environments.
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