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Detecting chemical weapons quickly with a color-changing film

Date:
January 28, 2015
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
In today's world, in which the threat of terrorism looms, there is an urgent need for fast, reliable tools to detect the release of deadly chemical warfare agents (CWAs). Scientists are reporting new progress toward thin-film materials that could rapidly change colors in the presence of CWAs -- an advance that could help save lives and hold aggressors accountable.
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Scientists are developing thin films that change color from white to blue in response to chemical weapons.
Credit: Swager lab

In today's world, in which the threat of terrorism looms, there is an urgent need for fast, reliable tools to detect the release of deadly chemical warfare agents (CWAs). In the journal ACS Macro Letters, scientists are reporting new progress toward thin-film materials that could rapidly change colors in the presence of CWAs -- an advance that could help save lives and hold aggressors accountable.

In their paper, Timothy M. Swager and Jonathan G. Weis point out that there are many techniques available to detect CWAs. One of the most effective ways for a sensor to show quickly whether chemicals weapons are in the environment is through a distinct color change. Several tests can do this when they're exposed to CWAs, but of these, most are based on liquids, which are not as practical as thin films. Thin films are critical for real-time detection because they are easier to use and can work continuously. Swager and Weis wanted to address this gap.

With that goal in mind, the researchers produced a new thin-film material and tested it using a substance that mimics a chemical nerve agent. It rapidly changed color in response to the agent. The researchers conclude that a family of such materials could be developed to sense various chemical threats.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.


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Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan G. Weis, Timothy M. Swager. Thiophene-Fused Tropones as Chemical Warfare Agent-Responsive Building Blocks. ACS Macro Letters, 2015; 4 (1): 138 DOI: 10.1021/mz5007848

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Detecting chemical weapons quickly with a color-changing film." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150128113953.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2015, January 28). Detecting chemical weapons quickly with a color-changing film. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150128113953.htm
American Chemical Society. "Detecting chemical weapons quickly with a color-changing film." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150128113953.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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