Author(s): Ewing RG, Atkinson DA, Eiceman GA, Ewing GJ
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Abstract Ion mobility spectrometry has become the most successful and widely used technology for the detection of trace levels of nitro-organic explosives on handbags and carry on-luggage in airports throughout the US. The low detection limits are provided by the efficient ionization process, namely, atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) reactions in negative polarity. An additional level of confidence in a measurement is imparted by characterization of ions for mobilities in weak electric fields of a drift tube at ambient pressure. Findings from over 30 years of investigations into IMS response to these explosives have been collected and assessed to allow a comprehensive view of the APCI reactions characteristic of nitro-organic explosives. Also, the drift tube conditions needed to obtain particular mobility spectra have been summarized. During the past decade, improvements have occurred in IMS on the understanding of reagent gas chemistries, the influence of temperature on ion stability, and sampling methods. In addition, commercial instruments have been refined to provide fast and reliable measurements for on-site detection of explosives. The gas phase ion chemistry of most explosives is mediated by the fragile CONO(2) bonds or the acidity of protons. Thus, M(-) or M.Cl(-) species are found with only a few explosives and loss of NO(2), NO(3) and proton abstraction reactions are common and complicating pathways. However, once ions are formed, they appear to have stabilities on time scales equal to or longer than ion drift times from 5-20 ms. As such, peak shapes in IMS are suitable for high selectivity and sensitivity.
This article was published in Talanta
and referenced in Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology