There are two separate examinations performed in the forensic analysis of explosives: identification and/or characterization of the intact explosives and examination of explosive debris. Examiners will analyze intact explosives and residues as well as intact or fragmented device components. The overall objective of forensic explosives examination is the identification of any explosives present. If intact explosive particles are found, the type of explosive, producer, and brand name may be identified. In contrast, trace residues of explosives may be analyzed and classified, but are difficult to identify. Variables such as ambient temperature, weather conditions, and temperature and pressure at the time of explosion all complicate the forensic analytical process.
Reference: Forensic Science Handbook, Volume I, 2nd Edition, edited by Saferstein, R. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002).
- Examination of methods for the analysis of tri acetone tri peroxide (TATP) by various mass spectrometry methods.
- Determination of synthetic route and source material identification from trace impurity analysis of TATP samples.
- Analysis of oxidizer salt mixtures by electrospray ionization – mass spectrometry (ESI-MS).
- The Smokeless Powders Database has been developed by the National Center for Forensic Science in collaboration with the Technical/Scientific Working Group for Fire and Explosives (T/SWGFEX). The Smokeless Powders Database consists of product information, physical description and measurements, and identification of the chemical components of smokeless powders.
- The technique of two dimensional correlation mass spectrometry (2D-CMS) based on collision induced decomposition energy and resonance excitation time perturbations has been applied to the analysis of fragmentation pathways for explosives and explosives-related compounds in an ion trap mass spectrometer.
- NCFS, in collaboration with the Townes Laser Institute and Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) has investigated the use of Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) for the analysis of organic residues, including explosives. Emphasis is on the chemometric approaches, standoff detection and plasma fundamentals.
For more information contact Dr. Michael Sigman.