A colorimetric sensor array for detection of triacetone triperoxide vapor

Hengwei Lin, Kenneth S. Suslick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Triacetone triperoxide (TATP), one of the most dangerous primary explosives, has emerged as an explosive of choice for terrorists in recent years. Owing to the lack of UV absorbance, fluorescence, or facile ionization, TATP is extremely difficult to detect directly. Techniques that are able to detect generally require expensive instrumentation, need extensive sample preparation, or cannot detect TATP in the gas phase. Here we report a simple and highly sensitive colorimetric sensor for the detection of TATP vapor with semiquantitative analysis from 50 ppb to 10 ppm. By using a solid acid catalyst to pretreat a gas stream, we have discovered that a colorimetric sensor array of redox sensitive dyes can detect even very low levels of TATP vapor from its acid decomposition products (e.g., H2O2) with limits of detection (LOD) below 2 ppb (i.e., <0.02% of its saturation vapor pressure). Common potential interferences (e.g., humidity, personal hygiene products, perfume, laundry supplies, volatile organic compounds, etc.) do not generate an array response, and the array can also differentiate TATP from other chemical oxidants (e.g., hydrogen peroxide, bleach, tert-butylhydroperoxide, peracetic acid).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15519-15521
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number44
StatePublished - Nov 10 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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