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Visual Detection of Trace Nitroaromatic Explosive Residue Using Photoluminescent Metallole-Containing Polymers

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The detection of trace explosives is important for forensic, military, and homeland security applications. Detection of widely used nitroaromatic explosives (trinitrotoluene [TNT], 2,4-dinitrotoluene [DNT], picric acid [PA]) was carried out using photoluminescent metallole-containing polymers. The method of detection is through the quenching of fluorescence of thin films of the polymer, prepared by spray coating organic solutions of the polymer, by the explosive analyte. Visual quenching of luminescence (em≈400–510 nm) in the presence of the explosive is seen immediately upon illumination with near-UV light (ex=360 nm). Detection limits were observed to be as low as 5 ng for TNT, 20 ng for DNT, and 5 ng for PA. In addition, experiments with normal production line explosives and their components show that this technology is also able to detect composition B, Pyrodex®, and nitromethane. This method offers a convenient and sensitive method of detection of trace nitroaromatic explosive residue.
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Keywords: TNT; explosives; explosives detection; explosives residue; fluorescence; forensic science; luminescence; metallole polymers; trace explosives

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0358. 2: RedXDefense, 7642 Standish Place, Rockville, MD 20855.

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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