Ammonia-Assisted Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry for Detecting Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) Explosive

  • Qiangling Zhang
  • Xue Zou
  • Qu Liang
  • Hongmei Wang
  • Chaoqun Huang
  • Chengyin ShenEmail author
  • Yannan ChuEmail author
Research Article


Proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) usually detects different types of compounds by changing the discharge gas to produce different reagent ions in the ion source. In the present work, a novel method of changing reagent ions, ammonia-assisted PTR-MS, was developed. Through an injection port bypass, ammonia was injected into a homemade PTR-MS device. A conventional PTR-MS apparatus with reagent ions H3O+(H2O)n (n = 0, 1, 2) can be converted to an ammonia-assisted PTR-MS with reagent ions NH4+.The new method was introduced to detect triacetone triperoxide (TATP) explosive material. Results showed that the sensitivity is enhanced more than 37 times compared with TATP detection using conventional PTR-MS and the limit of detection (LOD) could reach 1.3 ppb. TATP in real complex matrixes can also be detected successfully using this method. Compared to conventional PTR-MS, ammonia-assisted PTR-MS has better sensitivity and better LOD for TATP detection, and the technique provides common users with a convenient and quick method to change reagent ions. The users of PTR-MS can easily obtain other reagent ions by injecting different assisted gases into an injection port to meet different detection needs.

Graphical Abstract


Conventional PTR-MS Ammonia-assisted PTR-MS Assisted gases TATP 



This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2016YFC0200200), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 21777163, 21477132, 21577145), the Anhui Provincial Program for Science and Technology Development, China (No. 1604d0802001), and the Key Program of 13th Five-Year Plan, CASHIPS (No. KP-2017-25).

Supplementary material

13361_2018_2108_MOESM1_ESM.docx (702 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 701 kb)


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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Medical Physics and Technology, Center of Medical Physics and Technology, Hefei Institutes of Physical ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesHefeiChina
  2. 2.University of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  3. 3.Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine MechanicsChinese Academy of SciencesHefeiChina
  4. 4.Hefei Cancer HospitalChinese Academy of SciencesHefeiChina

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