A new eye-safe UV Raman spectrometer for the remote detection of energetic materials in fingerprint concentrations: Characterization by PCA and ROC analyzes

Salvatore Almaviva, Roberto Chirico, Marcello Nuvoli, Antonio Palucci, Frank Schnürer, Wenka Schweikert

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Abstract We report the results of proximal Raman investigations at a distance of 7 m, to detect traces of explosives (from 0.1 to 0.8 mg/cm2) on common clothes with a new eye-safe apparatus. The instrument excites the target with a single laser shot of few ns (10-9 s) in the UV range (laser wavelength 266 nm) detecting energetic materials like Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), Trinitrotoluene (TNT), Urea Nitrate (UN) and Ammonium Nitrate (AN). Samples were prepared using a piezoelectric-controlled plotter device to realize well-calibrated amounts of explosives on several cm2. Common fabrics and tissues such as polyester, polyamide and leather were used as substrates, representative of base-materials used in the production of jackets or coats. Other samples were prepared by touching the substrate with a silicon finger contaminated with explosives, to simulate a spot left by contaminated hands on a jacket or bag during the preparation of an improvised explosive device (IED) by a terrorist. The observed Raman signals showed some peculiar molecular bands of the analyzed compounds, allowing us to identify and discriminate them with high sensitivity and selectivity, also in presence of the interfering signal from the underlying fabric. A dedicated algorithm was developed to remove noise and fluorescence background from the single laser shot spectra and an automatic spectral recognition procedure was also implemented, evaluating the intensity of the characteristic Raman bands of each explosive and allowing their automatic classification. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to show the discrimination potentialities of the apparatus on different sets of explosives and to highlight possible criticalities in the detection. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to discuss and quantify the sensitivity and the selectivity of the proposed recognition procedure. To our knowledge the developed device is at the highest sensitivity nowadays achievable in the field of eye-safe, Raman devices for proximal detection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15752
Pages (from-to)420 - 426
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)

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