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Advanced explosives detector sniffs out previously undetectable amounts of TNT

Date:
August 8, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
With the best explosive detectors often unable to sniff out the tiny amounts of TNT released from terrorist bombs in airports and other public places, scientists are reporting a potential solution. New research describes the development of a device that concentrates TNT vapors in the air so that they become more detectable.

With the best explosive detectors often unable to sniff out the tiny amounts of TNT released from terrorist bombs in airports and other public places, scientists are reporting a potential solution. Their research in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry describes development of a device that concentrates TNT vapors in the air so that they become more detectable.

Yushan Yan and colleagues point out that TNT and other conventional explosives are the mainstays of terrorist bombs and the anti-personnel mines that kill or injure more than 15,000 people annually in war-torn countries. In large, open-air environments, such as airports, train stations and minefields, concentrations of these explosives can be vanishingly small -- a few parts of TNT, for instance, per trillion parts of air. That can make it impossible for conventional bomb and mine detectors to detect the explosives and save lives.

They describe development of a preconcentrator that increases the levels of TNT and related explosives by 1,000 times in less than one minute. The scientists made a "molecular sieve" membrane on the surface of holes about as big as a speck of dust. Molecules of explosives get trapped in these holes and concentrated enough that security agents could detect previously undetectable levels of explosives.

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Science Foundation and the China Scholarship Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jie Zhao, Ting Luo, Xiangwen Zhang, Yu Lei, Ke Gong, Yushan Yan. Highly Selective Zeolite Membranes as Explosive Preconcentrators. Analytical Chemistry, 2012; 84 (15): 6303 DOI: 10.1021/ac301359j

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Advanced explosives detector sniffs out previously undetectable amounts of TNT." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808121906.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2012, August 8). Advanced explosives detector sniffs out previously undetectable amounts of TNT. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808121906.htm
American Chemical Society. "Advanced explosives detector sniffs out previously undetectable amounts of TNT." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808121906.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

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