The Justice Department charged Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with attempting to destroy an airplane on Christmas day by using a PETN explosive.
The Justice Department said the 23-year-old Nigerian had a device containing a high explosive attached to his body while on a national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit.
The government said that as the flight neared Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Friday, Abdulmutallab set off the device, but it sparked a fire instead of an explosion.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court in Detroit, a preliminary analysis of the device shows it contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol.
Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab will make his initial court appearance later today, the Justice Department added.
Meanwhile, Mutallab's father, a retired banker, has been questioned in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
According to Nigeria's This Day newspaper, the family members said the elder Mutallab had been uncomfortable with his son's extreme religious views.
The paper added that the elder Mutallab had reported his son to the U.S. Embassy in the capital Abuja and to Nigerian security agencies as long as six months ago.