Gas-phase reactions for selective detection of the explosives TNT and RDX

Eduardo C. Meurer, Hao Chen, Leah Riter, Ismael Cotte-Rodriguez, Marcos N. Eberlin, R. Graham Cooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Highly selective gas-phase reactions with ethyl vinyl ether (EVE) of major electron (EI) and chemical ionization (CI) fragment ions of the explosives TNT and RDX have been uncovered. The fragment ion of m/z 210 from TNT undergoes [4+ + 2] cycloaddition with EVE to form an oxo-iminium ion of m/z 282, which dissociates by acetaldehyde loss after a [1,5-H] shift to form a quinolynium ion of m/z 238. The fragment ion of m/z 149 from RDX reacts with EVE by a formal vinylation reaction, that is, the elusive cyclic adduct loses ethanol to yield a nitro-iminium ion of m/z 175, which reacts further with EVE to form a second cyclic product ion of m/z 247. Calculations and MS/MS experiments support the proposed structures. These highly characteristic reactions of diagnostic EI and CI fragment ions improve selectivity for TNT and RDX detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-41
Number of pages2
JournalChemical Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Chemistry
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Catalysis


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