This article describes the use of conductive 3D-printed cones to perform both rapid sampling and ionization for chemical warfare agent (CWA) simulants and hydrolysis products in eight solid matrices.
Chemical warfare agents (CWAs) are toxic chemicals that have been used as disabling or lethal weapons in war, terrorist attacks, and assassinations. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) has prohibited the use, development, production, and stockpiling of CWAs since its initiation in 1997; however, the threat of deployment still looms. Detection of trace CWAs post-deployment or post-remediation, in bulk matrices such as soil, often requires lengthy sample preparation or extensive chromatographic separation times. 3D-printed cone spray ionization (3D-PCSI), an ambient ionization mass spectrometric (MS) technique, provides a rapid, simple, and low-cost method for trace CWA analysis in soil matrices for both in-laboratory and in-field detection. The current article reports the analysis of trace quantities of CWA simulants and hydrolysis products by 3D-PCSI-MS coupled to both a commercial benchtop system and a field-portable MS system. Empirical limits of detection (LOD) for CWA simulants on the benchtop MS ranged from 100 ppt to 750 ppb and were highly dependent on solid matrix composition, with the portable system yielding similar spectral data from alike matrices, albeit with lower sensitivity. (publisher abstract modified)