Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Barcode for explosives


Experts encounter a serious problem when studying the crime scene after an explosion. They can establish to a high degree of probability the type and power of the device used by terrorists and with what explosive substance it was filled with. However, they are usually unable to answer the most important question as to where and when the explosive itself was made: TNT is still TNT, regardless of the where and when it was produced.

Specialists from the Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics and their colleagues from several defense enterprises have developed special encoding additives. If these additives are introduced to the composition of the explosive, the site of the explosion will leave a kind of fingerprint, with which the explosive could be identified and the path of its legal movements could be traced; this would give the investigation into an incident of this kind a thread to uncover the supply channels of the terrorists. This most important work was fulfilled by the researchers in the framework of ISTC Project # 1292.

It is very difficult to make such encoding additives specifically for explosives; the requirements are too strict. On one hand they have to be completely harmless to the product (the explosive) and to the environment in their own right. On the other hand the explosion must not damage the encoding additive. And of course they all have to be individual, to ensure the reliability of the identification process. No dirt or impurities should be able to hinder the recognition of markers or to confuse them.

However, these complications proved no problem to the scientists from the Institute of Chemical Physics. The encoding additives they have proposed to introduce to the composition of explosives do not damage the explosive and are themselves undamaged after an explosion and have no adverse environmental effects.

“These are tiny grains of aluminum alloy, comprised of rare-earth elements,” informs Project Manager and Head of Laboratory Yuri Krasevich. “There are very few such elements in nature and they are dispersed throughout the Earth’s Crust. Therefore, in whatever quantities they may sensibly be found in special, pre-set combinations, they are not met in either natural or manmade objects. However it will be possible to find them at the site of an explosion; at least if they had been initially introduced to the composition of the explosive.”

Naturally, it is not so simple to identify such “fingerprints” as it is to read information from a barcode in a supermarket. Here the task in fact involves a highly complex chemical analysis of microscopic samples, to discover how many rare-earth elements there are in the sample, what exactly they are and in what combination. And yet the researchers have coped with this most difficult of tasks.

For the analytical method the project authors proposed the use of laser-emission analysis of the element composition, using equipment developed by NPO Typhoon. The scientists also developed the necessary methodology and highly complex software for statistical analysis.

The first tests have already been conducted. Using a special bench in an explosion chamber the properties of an “encoded” explosive were studied and the scientists are confident that it explodes “as it should” – no worse than the explosive in its initial state. The same can be said for the “fingerprints” it leaves, which enable identification to the same level of reliability as a product that is identified by its barcode.

Olga Myznikova | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Next Generation Cryptography
20.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Sichere Informationstechnologie SIT

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>