Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ability To Detect Explosives Boosted One Thousand-fold By New Device

Date:
April 7, 2005
Source:
University Of Arizona
Summary:
Star Trek-like technology being developed at The University of Arizona might soon screen airplane passengers for explosives as they walk through a portal similar to a metal detector while hand-held units scan their baggage.

UA professor of chemistry M. Bonner Denton holds the new technology that will allow the creation of pocket-sized explosive-detection devices.
Credit: Photo credit: Jeffery Babis, UA

Star Trek-like technology being developed at The University of Arizona might soon screen airplane passengers for explosives as they walk through a portal similar to a metal detector while hand-held units scan their baggage.

The new device is about 1,000 times more sensitive than the equipment currently used in airports to discern explosives. Rather than analyzing a swab from a person's briefcase, the new technology could detect the traces of explosives left in air that passes over a person who has handled explosives.

"This is a form of tricorder," said M. Bonner Denton, the professor of chemistry at UA in Tucson who's spearheading the new technology. Denton said combining such technology with a walk-through portal would make it simple to screen 100 percent of passengers.

The new device can be pocket-sized. The analyzers currently used in airports are about the size of a table-top microwave oven. Denton, UA scientist Roger Sperline and Christopher Gresham and David Jones of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. are working on developing a hand-held analyzer capable of detecting small traces of explosives or illicit drugs.

Such a device could be used at border crossings, Denton said. "This is more sensitive than dogs' noses. It does not suffer from overexposure or a case of sinus. One can store it in the cabinet, then grab the unit, turn it on – and it's running. And it tells you what material has been detected. Dogs just tell you something's been detected."

Denton will talk about this and other portable detection instruments on Monday, March 14, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time (11 a.m Pacific Time) at the 229th American Chemical Society national meeting in San Diego. His talk, "Advanced Instrumental Technologies and Their Impact on Homeland Security and on Forensic Science," will be given in Room 25C of the San Diego Convention Center.

Detecting explosives or drugs means sorting through an environmental mish-mash of chemical signals to pick out the one chemical of interest. That's what a drug-sniffing dog's nose does – picks out the chemical signature of a drug from the chemicals that come from the dirty laundry, candy, food stains, fabrics, toothpaste and everything else inside someone's luggage.

To do the same thing to detect explosives, machines at airport screening stations use a technology called ion mobility spectrometry.

Ions, or charged molecules, move when placed in an electric field. The speed at which an ion moves depends on its size and shape, so each ion has a characteristic speed. The airport analyzers snatch a collection of chemicals gathered from a person's luggage, put those chemicals into an electric field and then search for any ion that has a speed that indicates "explosive."

The machine needs a certain number of molecules to accurately detect and identify a specific chemical. If there are very few molecules of a particular substance, the machine cannot distinguish that molecule from all the others in the mix.

Denton realized that one place to improve detection was the electronics of ion mobility spectrometers. So he adapted circuitry originally developed for use in infrared astronomy.

The new device, called a capacitive transimpedance amplifier, improves the readout circuitry in ion mobility spectrometers.

"This change in readout electronics is key to the vastly improved sensitivity. It boosts the signal while lowering the noise," Denton said. "This is the first radical change in ion detection since the 1930s."

###

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University Of Arizona. "Ability To Detect Explosives Boosted One Thousand-fold By New Device." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050326101144.htm>.
University Of Arizona. (2005, April 7). Ability To Detect Explosives Boosted One Thousand-fold By New Device. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050326101144.htm
University Of Arizona. "Ability To Detect Explosives Boosted One Thousand-fold By New Device." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050326101144.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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