Vapor Pressure of Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine (HMTD) Estimated Using Secondary Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry

J Phys Chem A. 2015 Nov 25;119(47):11514-22. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpca.5b08929. Epub 2015 Nov 12.


A rapid method for vapor pressure measurement was developed and used to derive the vapor pressure curve of the thermally labile peroxide-based explosive hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD) over the temperature range from 28 to 80 °C. This method uses a controlled flow of vapor from a solid-phase HMTD source that is presented to an ambient-pressure-ionization mass spectrometer equipped with a secondary-electrospray-ionization (SESI) source. The subpart-per-trillion sensitivity of this system enables direct detection of HMTD vapor through an intact [M + H](+) ion in real time at temperatures near 20 °C. By calibrating this method using vapor sources of cocaine and heroin, which have known pressure-temperature (P-T) curves, the temperature dependence of HMTD vapor was determined, and a Clausius-Clapeyron plot of ln[P (Pa)] vs 1/[T (K)] yielded a straight line with the expression ln[P (Pa)] = {(-11091 ± 356) × 1/[T (K)]} + 25 ± 1 (error limits are the standard error of the regression analysis). From this equation, the sublimation enthalpy of HMTD was estimated to be 92 ± 3 kJ/mol, which compares well with the theoretical estimate of 95 kJ/mol, and the vapor pressure at 20 °C was estimated to be ∼60 parts per trillion by volume, which is within a factor of 2 of previous theoretical estimates. Thus, this method provides not only the first direct experimental determination of HMTD vapor pressure but also a rapid, near-real-time capability to quantitatively measure low-vapor-pressure compounds, which will be useful for aiding in the development of training aids for bomb-sniffing canines.