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Trace Explosive Detection in Aqueous Samples by Solid-Phase Extraction Ion Mobility Spectrometry (SPE-IMS)

Volume 57, Number 2 (Feb. 2003) Page 223-232

Buxton, Tricia L.; Harrington, Peter de B.


Law enforcement agencies use ion mobility spectrometers for the detection of explosives, drugs of abuse, and chemical warfare agents. Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) has the advantages of short analysis times, detections in the parts per billion concentrations, and high sensitivity. On-site environmental analysis of explosives or explosive residues in water is possible with ion mobility spectrometers. Unfortunately, the direct analysis of low levels of explosives in water is difficult. Extraction provides a method for pre-concentrating the analytes and removing interferents. Coupling solid-phase extraction (SPE) with IMS is useful for the identification of trace amounts of explosives in water. Commercially available SPE disks were used. After extraction, the sample disk is inserted into the ion mobility spectrometer, where the analytes are thermally desorbed from the disk. Concentrations as low as one part per trillion were detected with a Barringer Ionscan® 350. An external computer and acquisition software (LabVIEW™, National Instruments) were used to collect data. SIMPLISMA (SIMPLe-to-use-Interactive Self-modeling Mixture Analysis) was applied to the data to resolve features that vary with respect to time.