Wipe collected analytes were thermally desorbed using broad spectrum near infrared heating for mass spectrometric detection. Employing a twin tube filament-based infrared emitter, rapid and efficiently powered thermal desorption and detection of nanogram levels of explosives and narcotics was demonstrated. The infrared thermal desorption (IRTD) platform developed here used multi-mode heating (direct radiation and secondary conduction from substrate and subsequent convection from air) and a temperature ramp to efficiently desorb analytes with vapor pressures across eight orders of magnitude. The wipe substrate experienced heating rates up to (85 ± 2) °C s−1 with a time constant of (3.9 ± 0.2) s for 100% power emission. The detection of trace analytes was also demonstrated from complex mixtures, including plastic-bonded explosives and exogenous narcotics, explosives, and metabolites from collected artificial latent fingerprints. Manipulation of the emission power and duration directly controlled the heating rate and maximum temperature, enabling differential thermal desorption and a level of upstream separation for enhanced specificity. Transitioning from 100% power and 5 s emission duration to 25% power and 30 s emission enabled an order of magnitude increase in the temporal separation (single seconds to tens of seconds) of the desorption of volatile and semi-volatile species within a collected fingerprint. This mode of operation reduced local gas-phase concentrations, reducing matrix effects experienced with high concentration mixtures. IRTD provides a unique platform for the desorption of trace analytes from wipe collections, an area of importance to the security sector, transportation agencies, and customs and border protection.
Infrared heating, Thermal desorption, Explosives detection, Narcotics detection, Mass spectrometry