Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New sensor technology detects chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive materials

27.03.2006


Applications for homeland security, emergency planning



Engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, using an emerging sensing technology, have developed a suite of sensors for national security applications that can quickly and effectively detect chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive materials.

"We can use this technology to detect chemical and biological agents and also to determine if a country is using its nuclear reactors to produce material for nuclear weapons or to track the direction of a chemical or radioactive plume to evacuate an area," explained Paul Raptis, section manager. Raptis is developing these sensors with Argonne engineers Sami Gopalsami, Sasan Bakhtiari and Hual-Te Chien.


Argonne engineers have successfully performed the first-ever remote detection of chemicals and identification of unique explosives spectra using a spectroscopic technique that uses the properties of the millimeter/terahertz frequencies between microwave and infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. The researchers used this technique to detect spectral "fingerprints" that uniquely identify explosives and chemicals.

The Argonne-developed technology was demonstrated in tests that accomplished three important goals:

  • Detected and measured poison gas precursors 60 meters away in the Nevada Test Site to an accuracy of 10 parts per million using active sensing.
  • Identified chemicals related to defense applications, including nuclear weapons, from 600 meters away using passive sensing at the Nevada Test Site.
  • Built a system to identify the spectral fingerprints of trace levels of explosives, including DNT, TNT, PETN, RDX and plastics explosives semtex and C-4.

Current research involves collecting a database of explosive "fingerprints" and, working with partners Sarnoff Corp., Dartmouth College and Sandia National Laboratory, testing a mail- or cargo-screening system for trace explosives.

Argonne engineers have been exploring this emerging field for more than a decade to create remote technology to detect facilities that may be violating nonproliferation agreements by creating materials for nuclear weapons or making nerve agents.

How it works

The millimeter/terahertz technology detects the energy levels of a molecule as it rotates. The frequency distribution of this energy provides a unique and reproducible spectral pattern – its "fingerprint" – that identifies the material. The technology can also be used in its imaging modality – ranging from concealed weapons to medical applications such as tumor detection.

The technique is an improvement over laser or optical sensing, which can be perturbed by atmospheric conditions, or X-rays, which can cause damage by ionization. Operating at frequencies between 0.1 and 10 terahertz, the sensitivity is four to five orders of magnitude higher and imaging resolution is 100 to 300 times more than possible at microwave frequencies.

Other homeland security sensors

To remotely detect radiation from nuclear accidents or reactor operations, Argonne researchers are testing millimeter-wave radars and developing models to detect and interpret radiation-induced effects in air that cause radar reflection and scattering. Preliminary results of tests, in collaboration with AOZT Finn-Trade of St. Peterspurg, Russia, with instruments located 9 km from a nuclear power plant showed clear differences between when the plant was operating and when it was idling. This technology can also be applied to mapping plumes from nuclear radiation releases.

Argonne engineers have also applied this radar technology for remote and rapid imaging of gas leaks from natural gas pipelines. The technique detects the fluctuations in the index-of-refraction caused by leaking gas into surrounding air.

Early warnings of biological hazards can be made using another Argonne-developed sensing system that measures dielectric signatures. The systems sense repeatable dielectric response patterns from a number of biomolecules. The method holds potential for a fast first screening of chemical or biological agents in gases, powders or aerosols.

Other tests can detect these agents, but may take four hours or longer. "While this method may not be as precise as other methods, such as bioassays and biochips, it can be an early warning to start other tests sooner," said Raptis.

These Argonne sensor specialists will continue to probe the basics of sensor technology and continue to develop devices that protect the nation’s security interests.

Other potential applications for these technologies, in addition to security, include nondestructive evaluation of parts, environmental monitoring and health, including testing human tissue and replacing dental X-rays.

In addition to DOE, the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have provided support for this research.

The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory conducts basic and applied scientific research across a wide spectrum of disciplines, ranging from high-energy physics to climatology and biotechnology. Since 1990, Argonne has worked with more than 600 companies and numerous federal agencies and other organizations to help advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for the future. Argonne is managed by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

For more information, please contact Catherine Foster (630/252-5580 or cfoster@anl.gov) at Argonne.

Catherine Foster | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.anl.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor
22.02.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

nachricht Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode
22.02.2017 | Technische Universität München

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>