Journal Published Online: 01 November 2004
Volume 49, Issue 6

Highly Sensitive Screening Method for Nitroaromatic, Nitramine and Nitrate Ester Explosives by High Performance Liquid Chromatography—Atmospheric Pressure Ionization—Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-API-MS) in Forensic Applications



A highly sensitive screening method based on high performance liquid chromatography atmospheric pressure ionization mass spectrometry (HPLC-API-MS) has been developed for the analysis of 21 nitroaromatic, nitramine and nitrate ester explosives, which include the explosives most commonly encountered in forensic science. Two atmospheric pressure ionization (API) methods, atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) and electrospray ionization (ESI), and various experimental conditions have been applied to allow for the detection of all 21 explosive compounds. The limit of detection (LOD) in the full-scan mode has been found to be 0.012–1.2 ng on column for the screening of most explosives investigated. For nitrobenzene, an LOD of 10 ng was found with the APCI method in the negative mode. Although the detection of nitrobenzene, 2-, 3-, and 4-nitrotoluene is hindered by the difficult ionization of these compounds, we have found that by forming an adduct with glycine, LOD values in the range of 3–16 ng on column can be achieved. Compared with previous screening methods with thermospray ionization, the API method has distinct advantages, including simplicity and stability of the method applied, an extended screening range and a low detection limit for the explosives studied.

Author Information

Xu, X
Netherlands Forensic Institute, The Netherlands
van de Craats, AM
Netherlands Forensic Institute, The Netherlands
de Bruyn, PCAM
Netherlands Forensic Institute, The Netherlands
Pages: 11
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: JFS2003279
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS2003279