Researchers in Australia are reporting development of a portable device to help track down builders of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) -- those homemade fertilizer bombs that have wreaked such havoc in terrorist attacks around the world.
Paul R. Haddad and colleagues point out that IEDs have become a mainstay weapon for terrorists, resulting in an urgent need for new technology to identify and eliminate the sources of the explosives. However, quickly and reliably identifying the chemicals used in these crude but deadly bombs remains a major challenge to investigators. IEDs are often made with a diverse array of conventional, easy-to-obtain materials that require slow and painstaking analysis in the laboratory following an explosion.
The new technology streamlines that process, quickly and accurately identifying the chemical composition of blast residues from IEDs in the field. It consists of an instrument, about the size of a briefcase, based on a modified form of capillary electrophoresis, a mainstay technology for separating components in a mixture. In the study, researchers used it to identify major components of blast residues in less than 10 minutes.
Their study will appear in the Sept. 15 issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry.
Article: "Identification of Inorganic Improvised Explosive Devices by Analysis of Postblast Residues Using Portable Capillary Electrophoresis Instrumentation and Indirect Photometric Detection with a Light-Emitting Diode"
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