May 23, 2019 | Updated: 11:35 AM EDT

Trace Amounts of Homemade Bombs Detectable Through New Method

May 11, 2019 05:51 PM EDT

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Homemade Bomb
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Collaborators from King's College London and Northumbria University developed a new method of tracing homemade explosives.

The new method utilized ion-chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry that can detect trace amounts of numerous components of homemade explosives. Their method was published in Analytica Chimica Acta.

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2011 Oslo attacks are examples of crimes that used homemade explosives. Some ATM robberies also utilized these bombs which could be challenging because of the trace amounts.

Lead author Dr. Matteo Gallidabino said: "The method we developed is less time consuming and represents a viable solution for challenging explosives like these. By combining this approach with advanced data analytics, added intelligence can be retrieved from any evidence recovered. This has the potential to significantly impact criminal investigations and further enhance the role of forensics in the administration of justice."

The team successfully went on to use the new approach to interpret the time since explosives materials were handled by the original maker, analyzing sweat. They were also able to analyze gunshot residue to trace the type of ammunition used.

Dr. Leon Barron from King's College London said: "The technique is able to tell us so much more than just the explosives content. It detects thousands of different compounds simultaneously, which means there is an element of the in-built future-proofing capability to detect new types of explosives if needed or provide critical information about where a device came from or who it belongs to."

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