Reagent Impregnated Swipe for Thermal Desorption Release and Chemical Detection with Ambient Ionization Technology

Technology #15691

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FIG. 1 illustrates the concept of doping a chemical reagent into substrate media (usually a fabric of polyester, muslin, or cotton) entraining low volatility compounds until released by desorption (e.g. thermal) and provides a flow diagram comparing a reagent impregnated swipe approach (bottom flow diagram) versus the use of swipes with no chemical modification (top flow diagram);FIG. 2 is an overlay of two positive-mode mass spectra showing lack of detection of ammonium nitrate residue thermally-desorbed from a non-impregnated swipe (lower line) and detection of ammonium nitrate residue thermally-desorbed from the polyester swipe impregnated with dibenzo-21-crown-7 reagent M (upper line).
Roderick Kunz
Lincoln Lab, MIT
Kerin Gregory
Lincoln Lab, MIT
Managed By
Jack Turner
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending 2014-0030816

Reagent impregnated swipe for chemical detection

US Patent Pending


This invention is used in the detection of explosives, narcotics, chemical warfare agents or toxins.

Problem Addressed

The evolving threats posed by concealed explosives or the intentional release of toxic chemicals demands new and better ways to detect these threats and protect the public. 


The invention is a material that contains both a swipe optimized for collecting chemical traces and ionization reagents that improves the ionization probability and increase the resultant mass of the target analyte. The improved swipe can include multiple ionization reagents with different volatilities that can be released sequentially during a thermal ramp-up. Also, the swipe can have multiple ionization reagents associated with spatially separated portions of the swipe such that they can be releasable sequentially to detect multiple target analytes. 


  • The method increases the range of threat chemicals that could be analyzed at a higher precision
  • Different ionization reagents can be used for separate regions of the swipe, thereby opening up the possibility of faster automated analysis