Project Details Critical Evaluation and Vocabulary of Chemo-sensing and Determination Methods for Explosive Residues On-Site and in the Field

Project No.:
Start Date:
15 November 2015
End Date:
Division Name:
Analytical Chemistry Division
Division No.:


To review the existing and emerging on-site/in-field sensing methods for explosive residues (in regard to direct chemical sensing and spectral sensing from a stand-off distance) with special emphasis on nomenclature, definitions, and terminology recommendations by critical evaluation of data and methodology; to evaluate “electronic nose/tongue”and biosensing approaches to diagnose residual energetics and their impurities or explosive-related illicit materials for tracing sources of illegal manufacture/trade; to focus on the applications and impact of existing assays on potentiating future research and innovations to evolve better methods enabling more selective and sensitive detection of explosives useful for criminologic/forensic and environmental screening purposes.


Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in worldwide terrorist attacks by using easily available explosives supplied at low cost, giving rise to the proliferation of efforts aimed at detection/quantification of single/composite explosives to compensate for this threat. The need for sampling from criminologic sites, road side bombings, and post-blast debris as well as from remediated sites (e.g., contaminated land and groundwater) polluted with hazardous explosives and by-products increase the importance of on-site/in-field detection techniques for quick decision-making.

This critical review, with special emphasis on nomenclature, definitions, and terminology recommendations, will cover analytical problems of sampling and preconcentration; trace vapor/aerosol and particle detection (with nanotechnological applications); ion detection methods; vibrational spectroscopic methods; chemical sensing methods (including spectroscopic, immunochemical, aptamer/antibody and electrochemical sensors). Nontraditional explosives will be included, since most technologies target at a specific characteristic of commercial explosives (e.g., mass and nitrogen density). Another target is to evaluate the “electronic nose/tongue” approach in association with fiber optic and biochemical sensors to detect/identify residual energetics/impurities for tracing sources of illegal manufacture and trade. Available techniques will be compared with advantages/drawbacks in regard to selectivity and sensitivity (e.g., a carbon-nanotube conductivity assay may be sensitive but not sufficiently selective; less sensitive colorimetric techniques may enable high-throughput screening at low-cost) equipping users the means to choose a given method for a specific application.

The review will undertake a critical and comparative evaluation of established and emerging analytical methods (covering the harmonization of associated terminology) and highlight where further research and devices are needed.


  1. D. S. Moore, Recent Advances in Trace Explosives Detection Instrumentation, Sens Imaging 8 (2007) 9-38.
  2. S. Singh, Sensors-An effective approach for the detection of explosives, J. Hazard. Mat. 144 (2007) 15-28.
  3. L. Senesac, T. G. Thundat, Nanosensors for trace explosive detection, Materials Today 11 (2008) 28-38.
  4. J. S. Caygill, F. Davis, S. P. J. Higson, Current trends in explosive detection techniques, Talanta 88 (2012) 14-29.
  5. E. Ercag, A. Uzer, R. Apak, Selective spectrophotometric determination of TNT using a dicyclohexylamine-based colorimetric sensor, Talanta 78 (2009) 772-780.
  6. E. Ercag, A. Uzer, S. Eren, S. Saglam, H. Filik, R. Apak, Rapid detection of nitroaromatic and nitramine explosives on chromatographic paper and their reflectometric sensing on PVC tablets, Talanta 85 (2011) 2226-2232.


Aug 2017 update – The task group is exploring options to held an interim project meeting in Istanbul or somewhere else in 2018.

March 2018 update – A two-day “International Workshop on Energetic Materials” workshop will be held in Istanbul, 18-19 October 2018. The task group wishes to invite all concerned experts from all countries. Though the project name focuses on the analytical chemistry of energetic compounds, the Workshop aims to gather scientists dealing with all aspects of energetic compounds, including synthesis, characterization, stability, physical chemistry, biochemistry and environmental chemistry of explosives. The Workshop is expected to bring together world experts (including invited speakers from Australia, USA, U.K., France, Spain, and Turkey) and will provide a synergetic idea-exchange forum among energetic materials researchers.

The Project Task Group members, including Emeritus Professor D. Brynn Hibbert from Australia, Associate Professor Wujian Miao from USA, Dr. Leon Barron and Dr Jose Gonzalez-Rodriguez from U.K., Associate Professor Manel del Valle from Spain, Emeritus Professor Jean-Claude Tabet from France, and Associate Professor Ayşem ARDA from Turkey will be the keynote speakers. Proposals of all other experts/stakeholders to submit oral/poster presentations to the Workshop. will be considered.

SEE CALENDAR for updates <>

October 2018 update – IWEM2018 website:
The International Workshop on Energetic Materials (IWEM 2018) was held between 18-19 October 2018 under the co-chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Reşat APAK and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ayşem ARDA in the Blue Hall of the Rectorate Building of Istanbul University within the scope of the IUPAC project 2015-008-2-500. The opening ceremony of the Workshop was held by Rector Prof. Dr. Nuri AYDIN and Vice Rector of Istanbul University-Cerrahpaşa Prof. Dr. Mehmet BİLGİN. As IUPAC project partners, Prof. Dr. Jean Claude-TABET (Sorbonne University-France), Prof. Dr. Wujian MIAO (University of Southern Mississippi-USA), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Manel Del VALLE (Autonomous University of Barcelona-SPAIN), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Prof. Dr. Jose Gonzalez-RODRIGUEZ- (University of Lincoln, UK) and also Prof. Dr. İbrahim DİNÇER from University of Ontario-Canada, and Head of TUBITAK-SAVTAG (Turkish Scientific Technological Research Council-Defense Technological Research & Development Division) Colonel Dr. Mustafa CİVELEK participated. Additionally, experts from the Presidency of Turkish General Staff, TUBITAK-SAGE, TUBITAK-MAM, ROKETSAN AS, ALTINAY Aviation and Advanced Technologies Inc., Istanbul University-Cerrahpasa, Baskent University, Kirikkale University, Ondokuz Mayis University, Hacettepe University and Gazi University related to the field actively took part in the Workshop with (mostly) oral and poster presentations.

IWEM2018 started with the opening speeches of the Rector of Istanbul University-Cerrahpaşa, Prof Dr. Nuri Aydın, and the Co-Chairman of IWEM2018 Prof. Dr. Reşat APAK. Then, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sevil ULUCAN WEINSTEIN and her team from Istanbul University-State Conservatory performed a violin concert. During IWEM2018, the following presentations were made: Studies on the detection energetic materials in the environment were reported by Prof. Dr. Reşat APAK, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ayşem ARDA and research team (orally presented by Prof. APAK) under the title of “Examples of Colorimetric and Electrochemical Sensors/Nanoprobes (Devised in Istanbul Univ.) for Determination of Energetic Materials”; “Overview of Novel Hydrogen and Ammonia Production Research at CERL” by Prof. Dr. İbrahim DİNÇER as Plenary Lecturer; “Mass spectrometry detection of nitro explosives” by Prof. Dr. Jean Claude-TABET, (Sorbonne University-France; IUPAC Project Partner) as a Keynote Lecturer; “Trace detection of explosives based on electrochemical, chemiluminescent, and electrogenerated chemiluminescent techniques” by Prof. Dr. Wujian MIAO (University of Southern Mississippi-USA, IUPAC Project Partner) as a Keynote Lecturer; “Development of molecularly imprinted polymers for the sensor-based detection of explosives” by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Manel Del VALLE (Autonomous University of Barcelona-SPAIN, IUPAC Project Partner) as a Keynote Lecturer, “Identification and detection of home-made and most common improvised explosives used in terrorist attacks by chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques” by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jose Gonzalez-RODRIGUEZ-(University of Lincoln-UK, IUPAC Project Partner) as a Keynote Lecturer. (see program PDF IWEM-20181018)

A total number of 55 researchers have attended the IWEM2018; the Workshop was successfully completed with the oral presentations of 15 invited speakers from different universities and organizations, totalling 20 oral and 9 poster presentations with positive feedbacks from the attendees at the end (closing panel). The Workshop hosted scientific discussions having the potential for further cooperation possibilities among heterogenous research groups.

The project 2015-008-2-500 meeting was held just after the workshop with participants Prof. Dr. Reşat APAK, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ayşem ARDA, Prof. Dr. Jean Claude-TABET, Prof. Dr. Wujian MIAO, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Manel Del VALLE, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jose Gonzalez-RODRIGUEZ. The project outcome will ultimately be submitted to PAC as a IUPAC Technical Report.

Page last update 30 October 2018