Increasing security needs require field-deployable, on-the-spot detection tools for the rapid and reliable identification of gunshot residue (GSR) and nitroaromatic explosive compounds. This manuscript presents a simple, all-solid-state, wearable fingertip sensor for the rapid on-site voltammetric screening of GSR and explosive surface residues. To fabricate the new Forensic Fingers, we screen-print a three-electrode setup onto a nitrile finger cot, and coat another finger cot with an ionogel electrolyte layer. The new integrated sampling/detection methodology relies on ‘voltammetry of microparticles’ (VMP) and involves an initial mechanical transfer of trace amounts of surface-confined analytes directly onto the fingertip-based electrode contingent. Voltammetric measurements of the sample residues are carried out upon bringing the working electrode (printed on the index finger cot) in direct contact with a second finger cot coated with an ionogel electrolyte (worn on the thumb), thus completing the solid-state electrochemical cell. Sampling and screening are performed in less than four minutes and generate distinct voltammetric fingerprints which are specific to both GSR and explosives. The use of the solid, flexible ionogel electrolyte eliminates any liquid handling which can resolve problems associated with leakage, portability and contamination. A detailed study reveals that the fingertip detection system can rapidly identify residues of GSR and nitroaromatic compounds with high specificity, without compromising its attractive behavior even after undergoing repeated mechanical stress. This new integrated sampling/detection fingertip strategy holds considerable promise as a rapid, effective and low-cost approach for on-site crime scene investigations in various forensic scenarios.
This article is Open Access
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