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Standardized Measurements of Collection Efficiency from Wipe-Sampling of Trace Explosives



Jennifer R. Verkouteren, Jeffrey A. Lawrence, Matthew E. Staymates, Edward R. Sisco


One of the limiting steps to detecting traces of explosives at screening venues is effective collection of the sample. Wipe-sampling is the most common procedure for collecting traces of explosives, and standardized measurements of collection efficiency are needed to evaluate and optimize sampling protocols. The approach described here is designed to provide this measurement infrastructure, and controls most of the factors known to be relevant to wipe-sampling. Three critical factors, the applied force, travel distance, and travel speed, are controlled using a mechanical device. Test surfaces are chosen based on similarity to the screening environment, and the wipes can be made from any material considered for use in wipe-sampling. Particle samples of the explosive 1,3,5-trinitroperhydro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) are applied in a fixed location on the surface using a dry-transfer technique. The particle samples were recently developed to simulate residues made after handling explosives and are produced by inkjet printing of RDX solutions onto polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) substrates. Collection efficiency is measured by extracting collected explosive from the wipe, and then related to critical sampling factors and the selection of wipe material and test surface. These measurements are meant to guide the development of sampling protocols at screening venues, where speed and throughput are primary considerations.
Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE)


Explosives, wipe sampling, trace detection, collection efficiency


Verkouteren, J. , Lawrence, J. , Staymates, M. and Sisco, E. (2017), Standardized Measurements of Collection Efficiency from Wipe-Sampling of Trace Explosives, Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), [online],, (Accessed May 29, 2024)


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Created April 10, 2017, Updated November 18, 2019