Secondary ion mass spectrometry of powdered explosive compounds for forensic evidence analysis

Helena Téllez, José M. Vadillo, José J. Laserna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


RATIONALE Residual quantities of explosives deposited on, or absorbed in, nearby surfaces can be of forensic value in post-blast analysis. As secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) may be a suitable analytical approach for the screening of such residues, its performance was evaluated. METHODS The analyses were carried out in a SIMS instrument fitted with a quadrupole analyzer. The sample was sputtered at a 45° incidence angle with a 100 μm primary Ar+ beam (3 keV, 500 nA). Surface sample compensation was performed with low-energy electrons (500 eV, 0.75 mA). RESULTS TNT, RDX, PETN and cloratite were deposited in powdered form on double-sided tape and introduced into the mass spectrometer, without further handling, for SIMS analysis. The analysis conditions including compensation were optimized. A mixture of energetic compounds commonly used for explosive preparation was also analyzed, proving the potential of SIMS in forensic analysis. CONCLUSIONS This study demonstrated the possibility of detecting explosives by SIMS making use of a simple sampling procedure consisting of sticking the sample in powdered form (compatible with the collection performed in forensic post-blast analysis) onto double-sided tape without handling or preparation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1207
Number of pages5
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 30 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemistry


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