Ultra Sensitive Detection of Explosives

Abstract for Ancon Technologies ultra sensitive detection of explosives for presentation at International Symposium on the Analysis and Detection of Explosives Keble College · Oxford · 17 – 21 September 2017.


Ultra Sensitive Detection of ExplosivesAncon's NMT

Dr Boris Gorbunov, Michael Burton, Dr Robert Muir, Dr Brian Steer

Current state-of-the-art explosives detection systems such as ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) have a fundamental limit on their sensitivity in the form of the Faraday cup ion detector. This sensor requires thousands of ions to form a signal that is detectable above thermal noise limits in the amplifying electronics. In an application scenario, this corresponds to detection limits in the order of 1 ppbv vapour concentrations.

To overcome this limitation, Ancon Technologies has developed a conceptually new approach to ion detection. Rather than amplifying a current, ions are instead physically amplified in size by means of combining them with a much larger “tag” particle. These tags are large enough to be counted individually with a simple optical particle counter. The resulting Nano-Molecular Tagging (NMT) detector is therefore a single ion counter yielding orders of magnitude sensitivity improvements over the Faraday cup.

To date, NMT has been combined with, and demonstrated to work with, a range of different ion selection front ends, including IMS and FAIMS/DMS. Some recent results will be presented showing TNT vapour detection down to 30 pptv, as well as ASTM E2677-14 verified limits of detection for swab samples of 38, 32 and 8.6 pg respectively for TNT, PETN and RDX.

Click here to read more on Ancon’s NMT technology >

Click here to read more on the 12th ISADE 17-21 Sept 2017, Oxford >

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