Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research To Give Authorities New Tool In Tracking Terrorists

Date:
June 30, 2000
Source:
University Of Florida
Summary:
A new technique developed by University of Florida and University of Central Florida researchers may make it harder for terrorist bombers to cover their tracks.

Writer: Aaron Hoover

Related Articles


Sources: Joseph McClellan -- (814) 838-7082, mclell@chem.ufl.edu; Jehuda Yinon -- (407) 823-6469, jyinon@mail.ucf.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- A new technique developed by University of Florida and University of Central Florida researchers may make it harder for terrorist bombers to cover their tracks.

The technique detects explosive residues at concentrations 10 times lower than is possible with other techniques. The new method should make it far easier for authorities to determine if suspicious explosions are the result of bombs or other causes, the researchers say. The technique also may soon help authorities pin down where the explosives in bombs originated -- and even what company manufactured them, the researchers say.

"This method really looks like it will be more reliable and more sensitive than existing methods," said Richard Yost, a UF professor of chemistry.

One of the first tasks for authorities investigating suspicious explosions is to find and identify the explosive. That's not as easy as it may appear, said Jehuda Yinon, a professor of forensic science at the National Center for Forensic Science at UCF. For starters, the vast majority of explosive material may be consumed in the blast. What little unexploded material remains could be scattered widely and embedded in structures or debris, he said. The size of the bomb matters little in what remains. For instance, the bomb used in the Oklahoma City bombing weighed 2 tons, but investigators could not identify any explosive residue following the blast, he said.

Using current techniques, authorities can detect and identify explosive residues at concentrations as low as 10 parts per billion, said Joseph McClellan, a UF doctoral student scheduled to graduate in August who developed the new technique with Yost and Yinon.

In preliminary tests, the UF-UCF technique has proved capable of detecting explosives at levels of 1 part per billion or better, McClellan said. The technique also is faster than existing methods because it does not require extensive preparation of the sample.

Investigators typically search for explosive residues by analyzing samples of debris or structures near an explosion. A number of different methods are used. The government-approved method uses liquid chomatography coupled with ultraviolet light detection, with the liquid chromatography separating the explosive from the other compounds and the UV detection identifying the explosive. The new technique improves on this method using atmospheric pressure ionization -- mass spectometry to detect and identify the explosives. When coupled with liquid chromatography, the result is a highly sensitive and selective analytical technique, McClellan and Yinon said.

"I wouldn't use the word ‘breakthrough,' but it certainly is a further step ahead," Yinon said. "I believe that as we put the final touches on this technique, it's going to be adopted by the major police forensics laboratories."

Although the researchers have yet to apply their technique to material from an actual bombing, it has proved successful in detecting trace levels of explosives commonly used by the military and terrorists, including TNT, the world's most widely used explosive, as well as more exotic explosives such as PETN, McClellan said.

The technique also can be used to identify manufacturing byproducts, impurities and dyes in explosives that may point to the country or manufacturing plant where they originated, Yinon said. To test the potential for using this capability to trace explosives, the researchers are assembling and analyzing samples of TNT from a wide variety of origins. The idea is to create a database for authorities to refer to when investigating suspicious TNT explosions, Yinon said. If successful, similar databases could be created for other explosives, he said.

"After we have a database, whenever there is a case of a bombing, the local forensics people can do an analysis and match their results with the database and say, ‘Hey, this was made in Russia' or 'This was made in the U.S.A.,'" Yinon said.

The research was funded in part by a grant from NATO and in part by UF, McClellan said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Florida. "Research To Give Authorities New Tool In Tracking Terrorists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000628152714.htm>.
University Of Florida. (2000, June 30). Research To Give Authorities New Tool In Tracking Terrorists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000628152714.htm
University Of Florida. "Research To Give Authorities New Tool In Tracking Terrorists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000628152714.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins