Exploring Applicability of Direct Analysis in Real Time with Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS) to Identify Homemade Explosive Residues Post-Blast

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Black, Chelsea Elizabeth




Application of Direct-Analysis-in-Real-Time (DART) ionization with mass spectrometry (DART-MS) to identify explosives from post-blast residues is presented. Explosives studied represent current threats encountered in criminal investigations: homemade organic peroxides, binary explosives and smokeless powder. Simulated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were manufactured using triacetone triperoxide (TATP), hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD), methylethyl ketone peroxide (MEKP), homemade binary explosives (composed of a fuel-oxidizer) and smokeless powders. Each IED yielded bomb fragments representative of actual materials recovered from bombing investigations. Smokeless powder was of interest no reported method to identify nitrocellulose (NC) post-blast exists. This study aimed to demonstrate application of DART-MS for identification of homemade explosives using real-world samples and to characterize thermal breakdown products of NC. Recovered fragments were analyzed directly and in-directly using full scan high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). This work demonstrates the forensic validity of DART-MS to provide rapid and quality-assured identification of explosive residues from real post-blast IED fragments.


Analytical Chemistry




Carleton University

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