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Appl Opt. 2005 Feb 20;44(6):1084-91.

Trace detection of explosives with low vapor emissions by laser surface photofragmentation-fragment detection spectroscopy with an improved ionization probe.

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  • 1US Army Research Laboratory, Mail Stop AMSRL-WM-BD, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21005-5069, USA.


Trace explosive residues are measured in real time by surface laser photofragmentation-fragment detection (SPF-FD) spectroscopy at ambient conditions. A 248-nm laser photofragments the target residue on a substrate, and a 226-nm laser ionizes the resulting NO fragment by resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization by means of its A-X (0, 0) transitions near 226 nm. We tested two probes on selected explosives and modeled their electric field in the presence of a substrate with an ion optics simulation program. The limits of detection range from 1 to 15 ng/cm2 (signal-to-noise ratio of 3) at 1 atm and 298 K and depend on the electrode orientation and mechanism for NO formation.

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