The discrimination of 72 nitrate, chlorate and perchlorate salts using IR and Raman spectroscopy.

Author(s) Zapata, F.; García-Ruiz, C.
Journal Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc
Date Published 2018 Jan 15

Inorganic oxidizing energetic salts including nitrates, chlorates and perchlorates are widely used in the manufacture of not only licit pyrotechnic compositions, but also illicit homemade explosive mixtures. Their identification in forensic laboratories is usually accomplished by either capillary electrophoresis or ion chromatography, with the disadvantage of dissociating the salt into its ions. On the contrary, vibrational spectroscopy, including IR and Raman, enables the non-invasive identification of the salt, i.e. avoiding its dissociation. This study focuses on the discrimination of all nitrate, chlorate and perchlorate salts that are commercially available, using both Raman and IR spectroscopy, with the aim of testing whether every salt can be unequivocally identified. Besides the visual spectra comparison by assigning every band with the corresponding molecular vibrational mode, a statistical analysis based on Pearson correlation was performed to ensure an objective identification, either using Raman, IR or both. Positively, 25 salts (out of 72) were unequivocally identified using Raman, 30 salts when using IR and 44 when combining both techniques. Negatively, some salts were undistinguishable even using both techniques demonstrating there are some salts that provide very similar Raman and IR spectra.

DOI 10.1016/j.saa.2017.08.058
ISSN 1873-3557
Citation Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2018;189:535542.

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