Volume 48, Issue 3 (May 2003)
Characterization of Pyrotechnic Reaction Residue Particles by SEM/EDS
Today the method commonly used for detecting gunshot residue is through the combined use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). In recent years, this same methodology began to find use in detecting and characterizing pyrotechnic reaction residue (PRR) particles whether produced by explosion or burning. This is accomplished by collecting particulate samples from a surface in the immediate area of the pyrotechnic reaction. Suspect PRR particles are identified by their morphology (typically 1 to 20 µm spheroidal particles) using an SEM; then they are analyzed for the elements they contain using X-ray EDS. This can help to identify the general type of pyrotechnic composition involved.