The World's Leading PTR-MS Trace Analyzers Company

Security and Safety

Real-time detection of threat agents with IONICON PTR-MS

PTR-MS combines all features that are needed for analyzing dangerous substances like explosives, chemical warfare agents (CWA), toxic industrial chemicals (TIC) and drugs.

  • Real-time analysis with split-second time resolution
  • Direct injection sampling without the need of sample preparation
  • Extremely low Limit-of-Detection (LoD)
  • Outstanding sensitivity
  • Highly selective compound identification
  • Online quantification without the need of calibration
  • Very low maintenance requirements
  • Virtually consumable-free operation
  • Automated instrument control and data evaluation software for being operated by non-scientific personnel
  • Scientific data processing software supporting the research of world-class scientists

Thus, PTR-MS is ideally suited for everyone working in safety and security, from first-responders to scientists in research laboratories.

The capabilities of PTR-MS in die field of threat agent detection have been demonstrated and confirmed in various national and international safety and security projects, funded by the European Defence Agency (EDA), the European Commission (EC), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), BMVIT and many more. Several European military research institutes already rely on the stunning advantages PTR-MS has to offer: detecting threat agents at the speed of IMS and selectivity close to GC-MS.

Detectable substance classes

With PTR-MS and particularly with SRI-MS virtually all dangerous and illicit compounds can be detected and analyzed in real-time. Despite the fact that in this field most research is highly confidential, the strengths of PTR-MS in the detection of the following substance classes have been demonstrated in numerous peer-reviewed publications:

  • CWAs: sulfur mustard, nitrogen mustard, sarin, cyclosarin, soman, tabun, VX, etc.
  • TICs: phosgene, chloropicrin, acrolein, chloroacetophenone, chloroacetone, PCBs, isocyanates, etc.
  • Explosives: TNT, TNB, RDX, PETN, TATP, EGDN, NG, DMNB, picric acid, etc.
  • Illicit and prescription drugs: heroin, cocaine, MDMA, propofol, morphine, codeine, date rape drugs, etc.
  • New psychoactive substances: ethylphenidate, 4-MEC, NEB, MPA, 4-FA, 5-APB, 6-APB, 5-MeO-DALT, dimethocaine, nitracaine, AMT, etc.

IONICON's unique features

Precisely controlled and well-defined ion chemistry is of utmost importance in the detection and analysis of threat agents with PTR-MS. With IONICON's patented (EP3309817B1, US10074531B2) method of controlling the ion chemistry compounds can be identified virtually unambiguously in complex chemical environments and at extremely low concentrations.

The explosive TATP, the taggant DMNB and most organophosphorus CWAs have been very difficult to detect with PTR-MS for many years because of their tendency to fragment to unspecific product ions upon PTR ionization from H3O+. In literature is has been mentioned that the use of NH4+ reagent ions would efficiently suppress fragmentation and thus simplify obtained mass spectra while enabling extremely sensitive detection. However, so far all known methods for producing NH4+ in a PTR-MS instrument involve the use of toxic and corrosive ammonia, which makes it prohibitive in many environments.

Recently, IONICON invented a proprietary method of producing NH4+ without the need of any ammonia, but solely from H2O and N2. All IONICON PTR-MS instrument equipped with the SRI option are capable of rapidly switching to NH4+ reagent ions and are therefore perfectly suited for the ultra-sensitive real-time detection and quantification of explosives (e.g. TATP) and CWAs (e.g. sarin).

IONICON PTR-MS instruments are in use in several military research facilities, where highly trained specialists explore the characteristics of various threat compounds utilizing our sophisticated instrument control and scientific data processing software. However, in fields of application where the instrument is operated by a user with no background in natural sciences, we offer a fully automated instrument control and data evaluation software package, which comes with a customizable and extendable compound library. With this software option the highly scientific IONICON PTR-MS instrument is transformed into a one-button monitoring solution that can be operated by anyone.

Please click here to read more about our security projects.