Optimization of the separation of organic explosives by capillary electrophoresis with artificial neural networks

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Journal Article
Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2003, 48 (5), pp. 1075 - 1083
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The separation of 12 explosives by capillary electrophoresis was optimized with the aid of artificial neural networks (ANNs). The selectivity of the separation was manipulated by varying the concentration of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and the pH of the electrolyte, while maintaining the buffer concentration at 10 mM borate. The concentration of SDS and the electrolyte pH were used as input variables and the mobility of the explosives were used as output variables for the ANN. In total, eight experiments were performed based on a factorial design to train a variety of artificial neural network architectures. A further three experiments were required to train ANN architectures to adequately model the experimental space. A product resolution response surface was constructed based on the predicted mobilities of the best performing ANN. This response surface pointed to two optima; pH 9.0-9.1 and 60-65 mM SDS, and pH 8.4-8.6 and 50-60 mM SDS. Separation of all 12 explosives was achieved at the second optimum. The separation was further improved by changing the capillary to an extended cell detection window and reducing the diameter of the capillary from 75 μm to 50 μm. This provided a more efficient separation without compromising detection sensitivity.
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