Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 400, Issue 2, pp 313–320 | Cite as

A quantitative chemiluminescent assay for analysis of peroxide-based explosives

  • S. GirottiEmail author
  • E. Ferri
  • E. Maiolini
  • L. Bolelli
  • M. D’Elia
  • D. Coppe
  • F. S. Romolo
Original Paper


A quantitative chemiluminescent method, enabling indirect identification of the peroxide-based explosives TATP (triacetone triperoxide) and HMTD (hexamethylene triperoxide diamine) has been developed. Treatment of these compounds with acidic solutions produced peroxides, which were transformed into radical derivatives by horseradish peroxidase (HRP) and then quantified by measuring the light emitted during their oxidation of luminol. The method was first developed in the microplate format and later optimized for a portable luminometer, to enable rapid application of the assay directly on site. When the portable luminometer was used each analysis took only 5–10 min. The method had good selectivity, sensitivity, and reproducibility; in the microplate format the limits of detection (LOD) and quantification (LOQ) were 40 and 50 ng mL−1, respectively, for both TATP and HMTD. When the portable luminometer was used the LOD and LOQ were 50 and 100 ng mL−1, respectively, for both compounds. Introduction of light emission-enhancing compounds did not improve the analytical performance of the assay. Imprecision (CV values) was always below 10%. Recovery varied rapidly with time, with an average value of 78% after 5 min. No false-positive result was detected on measurement of a variety of samples; this is an important feature for analysis on site. The method was applied both to contaminated materials and to fortified soil samples, simulating operational conditions.


Triacetone triperoxide (TATP) Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD) Chemiluminescence Peroxide-based explosives Forensic chemistry Portable luminometer 



This work was supported by a grant from Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca (PRIN 2006033429: “New Analytical Tools for Security and Criminal Investigations: Trace Detection and Identification of Explosives and Related Compounds”) and by the University of Bologna (“RFO – Focused Fundamental Research projects” 2009–2010). Professor L. Prodi and Cyanagen srl are acknowledged for supply of enhanced luminol reagents, and Dr P. Caputo is gratefully acknowledged for sample measurement.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Girotti
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. Ferri
    • 1
  • E. Maiolini
    • 1
  • L. Bolelli
    • 1
  • M. D’Elia
    • 2
  • D. Coppe
    • 3
  • F. S. Romolo
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienza dei Metalli, Elettrochimica e Tecniche ChimicheUniversità di BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Gabinetto Regionale di Polizia Scientifica per l’Emilia RomagnaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Istituto Ricerche EsplosivisticheParmaItaly
  4. 4.Institut de Police ScientifiqueUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  5. 5.Dipartimento di Scienze Anatomiche, Istologiche, Medico-Legali e dell’Apparato LocomotoreUniversità di Roma “La Sapienza”RomaItaly

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