The new technique has advantages over traditional methods of detection: unlike x-rays that are currently used in airport security, it can distinguish between different types of white powder from flour and salt to drugs and explosives. It can also be used to detect landmines, an advance on the traditional method of using a metal detector which cannot distinguish between bits of metal in the ground and an actual mine.
Professor Hideo Itozaki, one of the authors of the paper at Osaka University said: “Until now it has been very difficult to detect specific explosives such as TNT because they contain atoms of nitrogen that vibrate at very low frequencies. The natural frequency at which the nucleus of an atom vibrates at is called its resonant frequency and the lower this is, the harder it is to detect what atoms are present in a molecule which in turn makes it harder to define what the molecule or substance is.”
The technique relies on nitrogen nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) which detects atoms of nitrogen (an element found in many explosives, including TNT) in different positions in a molecule. For example an atom of nitrogen attached to a carbon atom will have a different resonance to one attached to an oxygen atom. Because the molecular structure of each explosive is different, the resonant frequency will be different.
Professor Itozaki continued: “We have successfully developed a machine that can pick up very low resonant frequencies by using a SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device). The SQUID operates at a temperature of 77 Kelvin (minus 196 degrees centigrade) which we achieve by using liquid nitrogen. This will not hinder the equipment from being used in places such as airports as liquid nitrogen is becoming much easier to deal with and is already routinely used in hospitals and laboratories.”
Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
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27.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences