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Anal Chim Acta. 2008 Mar 3;610(1):57-67. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2008.01.016. Epub 2008 Jan 16.

Investigation of common fluorophores for the detection of nitrated explosives by fluorescence quenching.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1322, USA.


Previous studies have indicated that nitrated explosives may be detected by fluorescence quenching of pyrene and related compounds. The use of pyrene, however, invokes numerous health and waste disposal hazards. In the present study, ten safer fluorophores are identified for quenching detection of target nitrated compounds. Initially, Stern-Volmer constants are measured for each fluorophore with nitrobenzene and 4-nitrotoluene to determine the sensitivity of the quenching interaction. For quenching constants greater than 50 M(-1), sensitivity and selectivity are investigated further using an extended set of target quenchers. Nitromethane, nitrobenzene, 4-nitrotoluene, and 2,6-dinitrotoluene are chosen to represent nitrated explosives and their degradation products; aniline, benzoic acid, and phenol are chosen to represent potential interfering compounds. Among the fluorophores investigated, purpurin, malachite green, and phenol red demonstrate the greatest sensitivity and selectivity for nitrated compounds. Correlation of the quenching rate constants for these fluorophores to Rehm-Weller theory suggests an electron-transfer quenching mechanism. As a result of the large quenching constants, purpurin, malachite green, and phenol red are the most promising for future detection of nitrated explosives via fluorescence quenching.

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