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Keywords:

  • explosives;
  • explosive precursors;
  • confocal Raman microscopy;
  • textiles;
  • forensic

Abstract

This study describes the application of confocal Raman microscopy to the detection and identification of explosives and their precursors in situ on undyed natural and synthetic fibres and coloured textile specimens. Raman spectra were obtained from explosives particles trapped between the fibres of the specimens. The explosives pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), trinitrotoluene (TNT), and ammonium nitrate as well as the explosives precursors hexamethylenetetraamine (HMTA) and pentaerythritol were used in this study. Raman spectra were collected from explosives particles with maximum dimensions in the range 5–10 µm. Despite the presence of spectral bands arising from the natural and synthetic polymers and dyed textiles, the explosive substances could be identified by their characteristic Raman bands. Furthermore, Raman spectra were obtained from explosives particles trapped between highly fluorescent clothing fibres. Raman spectra of the explosive and explosive precursor substances on dyed and undyed clothing substrates were readily obtained in situ within 90 s without sample preparation and with no alteration of the evidential material. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.