MIT researchers have announced an innovation that could greatly improve explosives detection for military and civilian security applications.
Scientists have developed a new polymer that greatly increases the sensitivity of chemical detection systems for explosives such as TNT (trinitrotoluene). In the April 14 issue of Nature, they describe a polymer that undergoes lasing action at lower operating powers than previously observed, and they demonstrate that the stimulated light emission from the lasing modes of the polymer displays inherently greater sensitivity to explosives vapors.
Professor Tim Swager (chemistry) and Professor Vladimir Bulovic (electrical engineering and computer science) led the team that designed the novel semiconducting organic polymer (SOP) and invented the new chemosensing method. When exposed to ultraviolet light above a threshold intensity, the material undergoes a stimulated emission or a lasing process, manifested by a directed beam of light emanating from the thin SOP film. When TNT is present, it binds to the SOP surface and quenches the beam.
Elisabeth Thomson | MIT News Office
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