The number and capability of explosives detection and analysis methods have increased substantially since the publication of the Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry special issue devoted to Explosives Analysis (Moore and Goodpaster, Anal Bioanal Chem 395(2):245-246, 2009). Here we review and critically evaluate the latest (the past five years) important advances in explosives detection, with details of the improvements over previous methods, and suggest possible avenues towards further advances in, e.g., stand-off distance, detection limit, selectivity, and penetration through camouflage or packaging. The review consists of two parts. This part, Part I, reviews methods based on animals, chemicals (including colorimetry, molecularly imprinted polymers, electrochemistry, and immunochemistry), ions (both ion-mobility spectrometry and mass spectrometry), and mechanical devices. Part II will review methods based on photons, from very energetic photons including X-rays and gamma rays down to the terahertz range, and neutrons.
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