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Ion mobility spectroscopy (IMS) is a technology that is ideally suited for the detection of very low levels of analyte due to its extreme sensitivity and ability to speciate. Detection of common military and industrial explosives using IMS is an ideal application, since IMS can be tailored to be sensitive to compounds that form negative ions such as nitrate-laden explosives. However, realization of a miniaturized IMS-based detection system for explosives has been hampered by limitations in resolution of miniaturized IMS tubes and by the need to preconcentrate explosive samples and then rapidly desorb them creating a transient chemical concentration. We have demonstrated a new gating and data processing technique that takes advantage of pulse compression approaches developed for modern radar systems for decreasing granularity in target identification. We will show that closely spaced peaks can be isolated by adding discriminating codes to the gating signal. We will then employ matched filtering for the received ion current signal greatly improving instrument performance. This scheme is most advantageous to small geometry IMS drift cells that suffer from lack of resolution due to their small size but would improve sensitivity and peak location uncertainty in any geometry IMS tube. Specifically, we have demonstrated a 13 fold increase in signal-to-noise ratio and have effectively decreased the uncertainty in the location of the signal peak by a factor of 4.4 using a 13-bit Barker coding pattern to operate our IMS gating.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2007