Fluorescence quenching as an indirect detection method for nitrated explosives.
A novel approach based on fluorescence quenching is presented for the analysis of nitrated explosives. Seventeen common explosives and their degradation products are shown to be potent quenchers of pyrene, having Stern-Volmer constants that generally increase with the degree of nitration. Aromatic explosives such as 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (2,4,6-TNT) are more effective quenchers than aliphatic or nitramine explosives. In addition, nitroaromatic explosives are found to have unique interactions with pyrene that lead to a wavelength dependence of their Stern-Volmer constants. This phenomenon allows for their differentiation from other nitrated explosives. The fluorescence quenching method is then applied to the determination of hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX), octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazine(HMX), 2,4,6-TNT, nitromethane, and ammonium nitrate in various commercial explosive samples. The samples are separated by capillary liquid chromatography with post-column addition of the pyrene solution and detection by laser-induced fluorescence. The indirect fluorescence quenching method shows increased sensitivity and selectivity over traditional UV-visible absorbance as well as the ability to detect a wider range of organic and inorganic nitrated compounds.
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