Chemistry, Department of


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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Chemistry, Under the Supervision of Professor Patrick H. Dussault. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2010
Copyright 2010 LaTravia R. Dobson.


Triacetone triperoxide (TATP) is an organic peroxide that has received widespread attention in recent years. TATP is a ketone peroxide with a high active oxygen content. It is relatively shock sensitive, with explosive decomposition easily initiated, and is therefore considered a primary explosive. However, TATP is also a powerful explosive possessing about 83 % of the power of TNT. TATP can be prepared quickly and easily from inexpensive household chemicals in the absence of any specialized facilities, making it the explosive of choice for modern day terrorists.

TATP poses a major challenge for security and law enforcement services around the world. TATP and related peroxides do not include any of the functional groups commonly found in military or commercial explosives, making it difficult to detect. Furthermore, the sensitivity of TATP to shock, heat, friction and electrostatic discharge, characteristics which make it simple to trigger detonation, make the explosive extremely dangerous to handle in any quantity. In addition, there is currently no easy way to destroy bulk quantities of the explosive without detonating it in place. This poses a problem when/if the peroxide is found inside public places such as airports and train stations. In this thesis, we report investigations of a novel approach to the detection and/or deactivation of TATP based upon ultrasonication.