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Optimization of gas chromatography/vacuum ultraviolet (GC/VUV) spectroscopy for explosive compounds and application to post-blast debris

NCJ Number
Forensic Chemistry Volume: 26 Dated: December 2021
Courtney A .Cruse ; John V. Goodpaster
Date Published
December 2021

Since a statistical optimization of gas chromatography/vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC/VUV) for the analysis of explosives has yet to be presented, in the current project, a central composite design of experiments was used to optimize GC/VUV parameters for explosive and explosive-related compounds, such as triacetone triperoxide (TATP), dimethyldinitrobutane (DMNB), nitroglycerine (NG), diphenylamine (DPA), 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), and cyclonite (RDX). 


Parameters optimized included the final temperature of a ramped multimode inlet program (200 °C), GC carrier gas flow rate (1.9 mL/min), and VUV make-up gas pressure (0.00 psi). The impact of transfer line/flow cell temperature was determined not to be statistically significant. Post-blast debris was successfully analyzed to illustrate applicability to forensic analysis of explosives. Relevant compounds in single- and double-base smokeless powders were successfully identified in post-blast fragments originating from PVC and steel pipes. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: December 1, 2021