New sensors capable of detecting explosives in seconds

New sensors capable of detecting explosives in seconds

A team of scientists have developed a new sensor that is capable of detecting and identifying explosives such as TNT and RDX very quickly in as little as ten seconds.

The sensor, which changes its colour, is designed in way that it quickly identifies and quantifies five commonly used explosives. The sensor will be used to detect toxic contamination in waste water and help make public spaces safer. The sensor will able to detect compunds that are commonly used for industrial and military purposes in order to develop a monitoring system for environmental safety and security.

Lead researcher, William Peveler from University College London (UCL) said, “This is the first time multiple explosives have been detected using a single sensor before, demonstrating proof-of-concept for this approach. Our sensor changes colour within 10 seconds to give information about how much and what explosives are present in a sample.”

During the study, the researchers used a fluorescent sensor to detect and differentiate between DNT, TNT, tetryl, RDX and PETN just by recording the change in colours of the sensors. The sensors are designed in a way that it has a distinct 'fingerprints' for each compound. The sensors are made from quantum dots or nanomaterials with attached explosive targeting receptors.

The researchers published a paper detailing the technology in the journal ACS Nano.

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