Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MIT Scientists Improve Explosives Detection

Date:
May 2, 2005
Source:
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Summary:
MIT researchers have announced a scientific breakthrough that could greatly improve explosives detection for military and civilian security applications.

A sensor film made of a novel semiconducting organic polymer undergoes a lasing process when exposed to ultraviolet light. When TNT is present, it binds to the polymer and quenches the beam.
Credit: Image courtesy of MIT

MIT researchers have announced a scientific breakthrough that could greatly improve explosives detection for military and civilian security applications.

Scientists have developed a new polymer that greatly increases the sensitivity of chemical detection systems for explosives such as trinitrotoluene (TNT). In the April 14 issue of Nature, scientists describe a polymer that undergoes lasing action at lower operating powers than previously observed, and they demonstrate that the stimulated light emission from the lasing modes of the polymer displays inherently greater sensitivity to explosives vapors.

"What we have done is add another layer of amplification to the most sensitive TNT sensor available," said Professor Vladimir Bulovic.

Bulovic (electrical engineering and computer science) and Professor Tim Swager (chemistry) led the team that designed the novel semiconducting organic polymer (SOP) and invented the new chemosensing method. When exposed to ultraviolet light above a threshold intensity, the material undergoes a stimulated emission or a lasing process, manifested by a directed beam of light emanating from the thin SOP film. When TNT is present, it binds to the SOP surface and quenches the beam.

Because the new polymer undergoes stimulated emission at lower thresholds than earlier SOP materials, the intensity of the ultraviolet light needed to start the lasing action (pump power) is reduced by more than tenfold. This lowers the optical damage usually caused to organic molecules under intense illumination in air. By adjusting the pump power to just over the threshold needed for lasing, it is possible to dramatically attenuate the lasing emission with parts-per-billion doses of TNT vapor. The result is a thirtyfold increase in the detection sensitivity when the system is operating near the lasing threshold.

"This amplification method is extremely general," said Swager, who has previously developed a range of polymeric explosives detection systems. "I predict there will be many new fluorescent sensory schemes based on this principle."

Swager and Bulovic's invention is part of a larger program in sensing technology at MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN), a research center devoted to improving soldier survivability through nanotechnology. New technologies for explosives sensing could help protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices, one of the greatest threats facing coalition forces in Iraq. Enhancing the sensitivity of these detection systems could increase the distance at which explosives can be identified.

Swager's previous work in explosives detection systems has been licensed from MIT and commercialized by Nomadics Inc., an Oklahoma-based company working with the ISN. Their Fido explosives detection system, which rivals the detection ability of a trained dog, is currently undergoing tests by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in Iraq and by the U.S. Air Force for cargo screening operations.

"The ISN has been very helpful in bringing this technology to the attention of senior leaders of the Army and Marine Corps," said Dr. Larry Hancock from Nomadics. "We are very excited by the successes we have had in field demonstrations and we are working hard with the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force to meet their operational needs."

According to Bulovic, the present innovation can greatly increase the sensitivity of the Fido device.

Dr. Aimee Rose, a member of the team who made the discovery, predicts it will save many lives, both military and civilian. "To turn a laboratory discovery into a potentially lifesaving device has been an extremely gratifying experience," she said. "As a scientist, that is about as good as it gets."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Scientists Improve Explosives Detection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050502094300.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. (2005, May 2). MIT Scientists Improve Explosives Detection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050502094300.htm
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Scientists Improve Explosives Detection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050502094300.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