Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ability to detect explosives boosted one thousand-fold by new device

15.03.2005


Star Trek-like technology being developed at The University of Arizona might soon screen airplane passengers for explosives as they walk through a portal similar to a metal detector while hand-held units scan their baggage.



The new device is about 1,000 times more sensitive than the equipment currently used in airports to discern explosives. Rather than analyzing a swab from a person’s briefcase, the new technology could detect the traces of explosives left in air that passes over a person who has handled explosives.

"This is a form of tricorder," said M. Bonner Denton, the professor of chemistry at UA in Tucson who’s spearheading the new technology. Denton said combining such technology with a walk-through portal would make it simple to screen 100 percent of passengers.


The new device can be pocket-sized. The analyzers currently used in airports are about the size of a table-top microwave oven. Denton, UA scientist Roger Sperline and Christopher Gresham and David Jones of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. are working on developing a hand-held analyzer capable of detecting small traces of explosives or illicit drugs.

Such a device could be used at border crossings, Denton said. "This is more sensitive than dogs’ noses. It does not suffer from overexposure or a case of sinus. One can store it in the cabinet, then grab the unit, turn it on – and it’s running. And it tells you what material has been detected. Dogs just tell you something’s been detected."

Denton will talk about this and other portable detection instruments on Monday, March 14, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time (11 a.m Pacific Time) at the 229th American Chemical Society national meeting in San Diego. His talk, "Advanced Instrumental Technologies and Their Impact on Homeland Security and on Forensic Science," will be given in Room 25C of the San Diego Convention Center.

Detecting explosives or drugs means sorting through an environmental mish-mash of chemical signals to pick out the one chemical of interest. That’s what a drug-sniffing dog’s nose does – picks out the chemical signature of a drug from the chemicals that come from the dirty laundry, candy, food stains, fabrics, toothpaste and everything else inside someone’s luggage.

To do the same thing to detect explosives, machines at airport screening stations use a technology called ion mobility spectrometry.

Ions, or charged molecules, move when placed in an electric field. The speed at which an ion moves depends on its size and shape, so each ion has a characteristic speed. The airport analyzers snatch a collection of chemicals gathered from a person’s luggage, put those chemicals into an electric field and then search for any ion that has a speed that indicates "explosive."

The machine needs a certain number of molecules to accurately detect and identify a specific chemical. If there are very few molecules of a particular substance, the machine cannot distinguish that molecule from all the others in the mix.

Denton realized that one place to improve detection was the electronics of ion mobility spectrometers. So he adapted circuitry originally developed for use in infrared astronomy.

The new device, called a capacitive transimpedance amplifier, improves the readout circuitry in ion mobility spectrometers.

"This change in readout electronics is key to the vastly improved sensitivity. It boosts the signal while lowering the noise," Denton said. "This is the first radical change in ion detection since the 1930s."

Jeff Harrison | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.arizona.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht A big nano boost for solar cells
18.01.2017 | Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global threat to primates concerns us all

19.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Scientist from Kiel University coordinates Million Euros Project in Inflammation Research

19.01.2017 | Awards Funding

The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents

19.01.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>