A team of University of Florida researchers has invented a way to rapidly detect traces of TNT or other hidden explosives simply by shining a light on any potentially contaminated object, from a speck of dust in the air to the surface of a suitcase. "We have to find explosives quickly, inexpensively and, particularly, reliably," said Rolf Hummel, a UF professor emeritus of materials science and engineering who heads the lab where the method was invented.
The development provides instantaneous results, gives no false positives, can be used remotely and is portable -- attributes he says will make it indispensable at all levels of law enforcement, from local police to homeland security.
The method uses photoluminescence spectroscopy, a technique that casts light on a material and measures the range and intensity of the wavelengths of light the material produces in response. The wavelength of the emitted light varies depending on the chemical structure of the material.
Rolf Hummel | EurekAlert!
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