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The Use of Gelatin-Based Samples for Verification of Trace Contraband Vapor Detectors



Jessica L. Staymates, John Gillen


This work describes a method to produce inexpensive and field deployable samples that can be used to verify the working condition of trace contraband vapor detectors such as ion mobility spectrometers (IMS). With such instruments, including chemical warfare agent (CWA) detectors currently deployed worldwide, there is a growing need to verify the performance of the instruments while users are out in the field or working in laboratories. The samples for this verification should have a long shelf life of at least one year, be easy to carry around and provide a quick analysis. Here, we combined an aliquot of methyl salicylate (MS oil) into gelatin based samples. MS, or wintergreen oil, is a common IMS simulant that can be detected in positive mode, negative mode, or dual mode IMS. These gelatin-MS samples, when stored properly, provide a continuous signal to IMS instruments in explosives and/or narcotics mode. We have shown that these samples can last at least one year and the signal they produce is repeatable.


Ion mobility spectrometry, IMS, vapor, verification, gelatin


Staymates, J. and Gillen, J. (2010), The Use of Gelatin-Based Samples for Verification of Trace Contraband Vapor Detectors, Analyst, [online], (Accessed June 25, 2024)


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Created July 24, 2010, Updated February 19, 2017