Detection of explosives in traces by laser induced breakdown spectroscopy: Differences from organic interferents and conditions for a correct classification

V. Lazic, A. Palucci, S. Jovicevic, M. Carpanese

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29 Citations (Scopus)


With the aim to study and to improve LIBS capability for detecting residues of energetic compounds in air surrounding, nine types of explosives and some potential interferents, placed in small quantities on a metallic support, were interrogated by a laser. Shot-to-shot behavior of the line intensities relative to the sample constituents was studied. The detected plasma was not stoichiometric and the line intensities, as well as their ratios, were changing even for an order of magnitude from one sampling point to another, particularly in the case of aromatic compounds. We explained some sources of such LIBS signal's behavior and this allowed us to establish a data processing procedure, which leads to a good linearization among the data sets. In this way, it was possible to determine some real differences between the LIBS spectra from explosives and interferents, and to correlate them with molecular formulas, with some known pathways for the molecule's decomposition and with successive chemical reactions in the plasma. Number spectral parameters, which distinguish the each studied explosive from other organic materials, were also determined and compared with previously published results relative to percentages of correct classifications for the same explosives. Experimental conditions for reliable recognition of the explosives by LIBS in air are also suggested, together with the parameters that should be considered or discarded from the classification procedure. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All Rights Reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644 - 655
Number of pages12
JournalSpectrochimica Acta, Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

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