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Schachel TD, Stork A, Schulte-Ladbeck R, Vielhaber T, Karst U. Forensic Sci. Int. 2020; 308: e110180.


Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, University of Münster, Corrensstraße 28/30, 48149, Münster, Germany. Electronic address:


(Copyright © 2020, Elsevier Publishing)






The identification of confiscated commercial and military explosives is a crucial step not only in the uncovering of distribution pathways, but it also aids investigating officers in criminal casework. Even though commercial and military explosives mainly rely on a small number of high-energy compounds, a great variety of additives and synthesis by-products can be found that can differ depending on the brand, manufacturer and application. This makes the identification of commercial and military explosives based on their overall composition a promising approach that can be used to establish a pan-European Forensic Substance Database on Explosives. In this work, three analytical techniques were employed to analyze 36 samples of commercial and military explosives from Germany and Switzerland. An HPLC-HRMS method was developed, using 27 analytes of interest that encompass high-energy compounds, synthesis by-products and additives. HPLC-HRMS and XRD were used to gather and confirm molecular information on each sample and XRF analyses were carried out to gain insight on the elemental composition. Combining the results from all three techniques, 41 different additives could be identified as being diagnostic analytes and all samples showed a unique analytical fingerprint, which allows for a differentiation of the samples. Therefore, this work presents a set of methods that can be used as a foundation for the creation and population of a database on explosives that enables the assigning of specific formulations to certain brands, manufacturers and countries of origin.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Language: en


Commercial explosives; Explosives; HPLC-HRMS; Military explosives; Powder XRD; XRF


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