High-efficiency headspace sampling of volatile organic compounds in explosives using capillary microextraction of volatiles (CMV) coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2014 Mar;406(8):2189-95. doi: 10.1007/s00216-013-7410-3. Epub 2013 Oct 20.


A novel geometry configuration based on sorbent-coated glass microfibers packed within a glass capillary is used to sample volatile organic compounds, dynamically, in the headspace of an open system or in a partially open system to achieve quantitative extraction of the available volatiles of explosives with negligible breakthrough. Air is sampled through the newly developed sorbent-packed 2 cm long, 2 mm diameter capillary microextraction of volatiles (CMV) and subsequently introduced into a commercially available thermal desorption probe fitted directly into a GC injection port. A sorbent coating surface area of ∼5 × 10(-2) m(2) or 5,000 times greater than that of a single solid-phase microextraction (SPME) fiber allows for fast (30 s), flow-through sampling of relatively large volumes using sampling flow rates of ∼1.5 L/min. A direct comparison of the new CMV extraction to a static (equilibrium) SPME extraction of the same headspace sample yields a 30 times improvement in sensitivity for the CMV when sampling nitroglycerine (NG), 2,4-dinitrotoluene (2,4-DNT), and diphenylamine (DPA) in a mixture containing a total mass of 500 ng of each analyte, when spiked into a liter-volume container. Calibration curves were established for all compounds studied, and the recovery was determined to be ∼1 % or better after only 1 min of sampling time. Quantitative analysis is also possible using this extraction technique when the sampling temperature, flow rate, and time are kept constant between calibration curves and the sample.