Sexual lubricants are used to enable sexual encounters. There are different types of sexual lubricants such as water-based, oil-based, and silicone-based. They come pre-applied to condoms and separately in bottles as personal lubricants. Although sexual lubricants are intended for consensual use, they are also unfortunately used during the commission of sexual assaults. The analysis of sexual lubricants facilitates sexual assault investigations. With the increased usage of condoms in sexual assault cases, the potential of collected DNA evidence in each case is reduced. In the absence of biological evidence, the presence of sexual lubricants after a sexual assault can provide an additional link between a suspect and the crime scene and/or victim. Having the ability to compare known and unknown sexual lubricants may be the only actionable information available for investigators. Current lubricant analysis only classifies samples into lubricant types based on the major component such as glycerol, petrolatum, and polydimethylsiloxane for water-based, oil-based, and silicone-based lubricants respectively. Differentiation within major types has not been explored. Previously, protocols have been developed to detect and categorize personal lubricants using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS), and pyrolysis GC-MS. FTIR is routinely used as a screening tool to detect peaks of the major lubricant components and the mass spectrometry (MS) techniques are commonly used to confirm the presence of some of the major components, excluding PDMS. This thesis focused on the differentiation of silicone-based personal and condom lubricants because it is a common type of lubricant due to its ability to reduce friction for a longer period of time. Fifty-six (56) silicone personal and condom lubricants were analyzed to identify unique characteristics that can be used to determine individual sub-classes and test those sub-classes. Direct analysis in real time-time of flight mass spectrometry (DART-TOFMS) was utilized because minor and unique molecular ions that could be attributed to different sub-groups can easily be distinguished from the major sample peaks. This is primarily based on the direct mass spectrometry design of the instrumentation that can differentiate minor components from major components that might not be observed using traditional chromatographic separation. The DART source creates molecular ions for individual components in mixed samples under atmospheric conditions in either positive or negative mode. The TOF-MS, which is capable of high resolution and accurate mass analysis, allows more accurate and precise detection of molecular component ions. Additionally, no sample preparation is required to analyze neat samples, which minimizes potential contamination issues. Attenuated total reflectance-FTIR (ATR-FIR) was used to analyze the training set personal lubricants to compare previous methods of analysis to the newly developed DART-TOFMS method of analysis. Principle component analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis were used to identify potential sub-groups and subsequently a classification scheme. Linear discriminant analysis was utilized to conduct leave one out cross validation and to categorize test samples. Eight sub-groups were developed based on the presence and/or absence of PDMS and minor component peaks observed. A classification scheme was developed using the eight sub-groups identified through PCA and cluster analysis. This classification scheme was tested using LDA to classify blind samples. One group includes a scented personal lubricant. Another group includes flavored condom lubricants. The other groups were developed based on the relative intensity of PDMS peaks and minor component peaks. Variation of the intensity of PDMS peaks between and within samples of different lot numbers causes some misclassification of samples. This classification scheme also doesn't take into account real-world factors such as dilution and biodegradation. Although further research is required to create a more stable classification scheme, the identified sub-groups are a good foundation for the creation of a lubricant database and finalized classification scheme.

Graduation Date





Bridge, Candice


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Forensic Science









Release Date

December 2016

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)