Applications of direct injection soft chemical ionisation-mass spectrometry for the detection of pre-blast smokeless powder organic additives

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Analysis of smokeless powders is of interest from forensics and security perspectives. This article reports the detection of smokeless powder organic additives (in their pre-detonation condition), namely the stabiliser diphenylamine and its derivatives 2-nitrodiphenylamine and 4-nitrodiphenylamine, and the additives (used both as stabilisers and plasticisers) methyl centralite and ethyl centralite, by means of swab sampling followed by thermal desorption and direct injection soft chemical ionisation-mass spectrometry. Investigations on the product ions resulting from the reactions of the reagent ions H3O+ and O2+ with additives as a function of reduced electric field are reported. The method was comprehensively evaluated in terms of linearity, sensitivity and precision. For H3O+, the limits of detection (LoD) are in the range of 41–88 pg of additive, for which the accuracy varied between 1.5 and 3.2%, precision varied between 3.7 and 7.3% and linearity showed R2 ≥ 0.9991. For O2+, LoD are in the range of 72 to 1.4 ng, with an accuracy of between 2.8 and 4.9% and a precision between 4.5 and 8.6% and R2 ≥ 0.9914. The validated methodology was applied to the analysis of commercial pre-blast gun powders from different manufacturers.

Bibliographic note

González-Méndez, R. & Mayhew, C.A. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. (2019).


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-624
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number4
Early online date13 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2019


  • PTR-MS, Proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry, SCIMS, Smokeless powder additives, Smokeless powders, Soft chemical ionisation-mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas