Analysis of explosive and other organic residues by laser induced breakdown spectroscopy

V. Lazic, A. Palucci, S. Jovicevic, C. Poggi, E. Buono

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With the aim of realizing a compact instrument for detection of energetic materials at trace levels, laser induced breakdown spectroscopy was applied on residues from nine explosives in air surroundings. Different potentially interfering organic materials were also analyzed. The residues were not uniformly distributed on an aluminum support and single-shot discrimination was attempted. For a single residue type, large shot-to-shot fluctuations of the line intensity ratios characteristic for organic samples were observed, which made material classification difficult. It was found that both atomic and molecular emission intensities, as well as their ratios, are strongly affected by an amount of the ablated support material, which mainly determines the plasma temperature. With respect to the spectra from the clean support, emission intensities of atomic oxygen and nitrogen are always reduced in the presence of an organic material, even if its molecules contain these elements. This was attributed to chemical reactions in a plasma containing carbon or its fragments. Hydrogen atomic emission depends strongly on the local humidity above the sampled point and its line intensity shows shot to shot variations up to 50%, also on a homogeneous sample. It is argued that shock waves generated by previous spatially and/or temporally close laser pulses blow away a relatively heavy water aerosol, which later diffuses slowly back towards the sampled point. C2and CN exhibit a peak emission behavior with atomic Al emission, and their variable ratio indicates an existence of different formation or removal mechanisms from the plasma, depending on the plasma parameters and on the composition of the organic residue. On the basis of these observations, an attempt is made to establish a suitable procedure for data analysis and to determine the optimal experimental conditions, which would allow for discrimination of explosives from other, potentially interfering, residues. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1028 - 1039
Number of pages12
JournalSpectrochimica Acta, Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy

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