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Title: Direct Real-Time Detection of Vapors from Explosive Compounds

The real-time detection of vapors from low volatility explosives including PETN, tetryl, RDX and nitroglycerine along with various compositions containing these substances is demonstrated. This was accomplished with an atmospheric flow tube (AFT) using a non-radioactive ionization source and coupled to a mass spectrometer. Direct vapor detection was demonstrated in less than 5 seconds at ambient temperature without sample pre-concentration. The several seconds of residence time of analytes in the AFT provides a significant opportunity for reactant ions to interact with analyte vapors to achieve ionization. This extended reaction time, combined with the selective ionization using the nitrate reactant ions (NO3- and NO3-•HNO3), enables highly sensitive explosives detection. Observed signals from diluted explosive vapors indicate detection limits below 10 ppqv using selected ion monitoring (SIM) of the explosive-nitrate adduct at m/z 349, 378, 284 and 289 for tetryl, PETN, RDX and NG respectively. Also provided is a demonstration of the vapor detection from 10 different energetic formulations, including double base propellants, plastic explosives and commercial blasting explosives using SIM for the NG, PETN and RDX product ions.
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Analytical Chemistry, 85(22):10977-10983
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
explosives vapor detection; mass spectrometry; atmospheric pressure ionization