Jump to main content
Jump to site search


Explosives detection by swabbing for improvised explosive devices

Author affiliations

Abstract

Swabs taken from the surface of a suspicious object are a standard method of identifying a concealed explosive device in security-conscious locations like airports. In this paper we demonstrate a sensitive method to collect and detect trace explosive residues from improvised explosive devices using swabs and an optical sensor element. Swabs coated with a commercial fluoropolymer are used to collect material and are subsequently heated to thermally desorb the explosives, causing the quenching of light emission from a thin film luminescent sensor. We report the sorption and desorption characteristics of swabs loaded with 2,4-DNT tested with Super Yellow fluorescent sensors in a laboratory setting, with detection that is up to three orders of magnitude more sensitive than standard colorimetric tests. The method was then applied in field tests with raw military-grade explosives TNT, PETN and RDX, on various objects containing the explosives, and post-blast craters. We show for the first time results using organic semiconductors to detect sub-milligram amounts of explosive sorbed onto a substrate from real explosives in the field, giving a promising new approach for IED detection.

Graphical abstract: Explosives detection by swabbing for improvised explosive devices

Back to tab navigation

Article information


Submitted
01 Jul 2020
Accepted
04 Oct 2020
First published
05 Oct 2020

This article is Open Access

Analyst, 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

Explosives detection by swabbing for improvised explosive devices

J. M. E. Glackin, R. N. Gillanders, F. Eriksson, M. Fjällgren, J. Engblom, S. Mohammed, I. D. W. Samuel and G. A. Turnbull, Analyst, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D0AN01312A

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material.

Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

  • For reproduction of material from NJC:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
    [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
  • For reproduction of material from PPS:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.


Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements