Analysis of the volatile chemical markers of explosives using novel solid phase microextraction coupled to ion mobility spectrometry

J Sep Sci. 2008 Aug;31(15):2891-8. doi: 10.1002/jssc.200800171.


Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) is routinely used in screening checkpoints for the detection of explosives and illicit drugs but it mainly relies on the capture of particles on a swab surface for the detection. Solid phase microextraction (SPME) has been coupled to IMS for the preconcentration of explosives and their volatile chemical markers and, although it has improved the LODs over a standalone IMS, it is limited to sampling in small vessels by the fiber geometry. Novel planar geometry SPME devices coated with PDMS and sol-gel PDMS that do not require an additional interface to IMS are now reported for the first time. The explosive, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), is sampled with the planar SPME reaching extraction equilibrium faster than with fiber SPME, concentrating detectable levels of TNT in a matter of minutes. The surface area, capacity, extraction efficiency, and LODs are also improved over fiber SPME allowing for sampling in larger volumes. The volatile chemical markers, 2,4-dinitrotoluene, cyclohexanone, and the taggant 4-nitrotoluene have also been successfully extracted by planar SPME and detected by IMS at mass loadings below 1 ng of extracted analyte on the planar device for TNT, for example.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cyclohexanones / analysis*
  • Dinitrobenzenes / analysis*
  • Explosive Agents / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry / instrumentation
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Particle Size
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solid Phase Microextraction / instrumentation
  • Solid Phase Microextraction / methods*
  • Surface Properties
  • Time Factors
  • Toluene / analogs & derivatives*
  • Toluene / analysis
  • Trinitrotoluene / chemistry*
  • Volatilization


  • Cyclohexanones
  • Dinitrobenzenes
  • Explosive Agents
  • Trinitrotoluene
  • Toluene
  • cyclohexanone
  • 2,4-dinitrotoluene
  • 4-nitrotoluene