Preconcentration techniques for trace explosive sensing

Ross N. Gillanders, James M. E. Glackin, Janja Filipi, Nikola Kezic, Ifor D W. Samuel, Graham A. Turnbull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Trace sensing of explosive vapours is a method in humanitarian demining and Improvised Explosives Device (IED) detection that has received increasing attention recently, since accurate, fast, and reliable chemical detection is highly important for threat identification. However, trace molecule sampling in the field can be extremely difficult due to factors including weather, locale, and very low vapour pressure of the explosive. Preconcentration of target molecules onto a substrate can provide a method to collect higher amounts of analyte for analysis. We used the commercial fluoropolymer Aflas as a preconcentrator material to sorb explosive molecules to the surface, allowing subsequent detection of the explosives via the luminescence quenching response from the organic polymer Super Yellow. The preconcentration effect of Aflas was confirmed and characterised with 2,4-DNT, prior to field sampling being conducted at a test minefield in Croatia by placing preconcentration strips in the entrance of the hives, where honeybees have collected explosive materials during free-flying. In this work we show for the first time a method for confirmation of landmines combining honeybee colonies containing a preconcentration material and subsequent monitoring of luminescence quenching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-658
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date14 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Nitroaromatic
  • Apis mellifera carnica
  • REST sampling
  • Luminescence quenching
  • Fluoropolymer
  • Honeybee


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