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Open AccessArticle

Sensing Precursors of Illegal Drugs—Rapid Detection of Acetic Anhydride Vapors at Trace Levels Using Photoionization Detection and Ion Mobility Spectrometry

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Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering, Babeş-Bolyai University, Str. Fântânele nr. 30, RO-400294 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
2
Technische Universität München, Institut für Informatik VI, Boltzmannstraße 3, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
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Babeș-Bolyai University, “Raluca Ripan” Institute for Research in Chemistry, 30 Fântânele Str., RO-400294 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
4
Department of Environmental Chemistry and Bioanalytics, Faculty of Chemistry, Interdisciplinary Centre of Modern Technologies, Nicolaus Copernicus University, 7 Gagarina Str., 87-100 Torun, Poland
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Ioan Tomuta and Gavino Sanna
Molecules 2020, 25(8), 1852; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25081852
Received: 16 February 2020 / Revised: 14 April 2020 / Accepted: 15 April 2020 / Published: 17 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drug Analysis in Pharmaceutical Development and Drug Manufacturing)
Sensitive real-time detection of vapors produced by the precursors, reagents and solvents used in the illegal drugs manufacture represents a priority nowadays. Acetic anhydride (AA) is the key chemical used as acetylation agent in producing the illegal drugs heroin and methaqualone. This study was directed towards quick detection and quantification of AA in air, using two fast and very sensitive analytical techniques: photoionization detection (PID) and ion mobility spectrometry (IMS). Results obtained indicated that both PID and IMS can sense AA at ultra-trace levels in air, but while PID produces a non-selective response, IMS offers richer information. Ion mobility spectrometric response in the positive ion mode presented one product ion, at reduced ion mobility K0 of 1.89 cm2 V−1 s−1 (almost overlapped with positive reactant ion peak), while in the negative ion mode two well separated product ions, with K0 of 1.90 and 1.71 cm2 V−1 s−1, were noticed. Our study showed that by using a portable, commercial IMS system (model Mini IMS, I.U.T. GmbH Berlin) AA can be easily measured at concentrations of 0.05 ppmv (0.2 mg m−3) in negative ion mode. Best selectivity and sensitivity of the IMS response were therefore achieved in the negative operation mode. View Full-Text
Keywords: acetic anhydride (AA); trace detection; illegal drugs precursors; photoionization detection PID; ion mobility spectrometry IMS acetic anhydride (AA); trace detection; illegal drugs precursors; photoionization detection PID; ion mobility spectrometry IMS
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bocos-Bintintan, V.; Ghira, G.-B.; Anton, M.; Martiniuc, A.-V.; Ratiu, I.-A. Sensing Precursors of Illegal Drugs—Rapid Detection of Acetic Anhydride Vapors at Trace Levels Using Photoionization Detection and Ion Mobility Spectrometry. Molecules 2020, 25, 1852.

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