Contaminated fingerprints leave dark shadows on the films, which glow blue under ultraviolet light. One of the films can distinguish between different classes of explosive chemicals, a property that could provide evidence to help solve a crime, or prevent one.
A recent episode of CSI: Miami featured the technology, which linked fingerprints left on a video camera to a bomb used in a bank heist, revealing the motive for the robbery. In real life, the security systems company RedXDefense has developed a portable kit based on the technology that security officers could use with minimal training.
Detection relies on fluorescent polymers developed at UCSD by chemistry and biochemistry professor William Trogler and graduate student Jason Sanchez. “It’s a very intuitive detection method that doesn’t require a scientist to run,” Trogler said.
Sanchez and Trogler describe the synthesis and properties of their polymers in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Materials Chemistry.
The polymers emit blue light when excited by ultraviolet radiation. Nitrogen-based explosive chemicals such as TNT quench that glow by soaking up electrons.
Because the polymers fluoresce brightly, no special instruments are needed to read the results. Only a very thin film sprayed on a suspect surface is needed to reveal the presence of a dangerous chemical. A single layer of the polymer, about one thousandth of a gram, is enough to detect minute amounts of some explosives, as little as a few trillionths of a gram (picograms) on a surface a half-foot in diameter. Handling explosives can leave 1,000 times that quantity or more stuck to fingers or vehicles.
The films also adhere directly to potentially contaminated surfaces, making them more sensitive than previous methods, which rely on capturing molecules that escape into the air.
Detection can be fast, revealing incriminating fingerprints as soon as the solvents dry, within 30 seconds. Exposure to ultraviolet light for an minute or two alters one of the films so that traces a nitrate esters, a class chemicals that includes the highly explosive PTEN, begin to glow green. Traces of other classes of explosives, such as nitroaromatics like TNT, stay dark.
Trogler’s group is currently developing similar systems to detect explosives based on peroxides.
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research and RedXDefense funded the research. Sanchez was supported by the National Science Foundation.
Trogler serves on the strategic advisory board of RedXDefense, which has licensed the technology from UCSD.
Susan Brown | EurekAlert!
Hopkins researchers ID neurotransmitter that helps cancers progress
25.04.2019 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Trigger region found for absence epileptic seizures
25.04.2019 | RIKEN
Flexible, organic and printed electronics conquer everyday life. The forecasts for growth promise increasing markets and opportunities for the industry. In Europe, top institutions and companies are engaged in research and further development of these technologies for tomorrow's markets and applications. However, access by SMEs is difficult. The European project SmartEEs - Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing works on the establishment of a European innovation network, which supports both the access to competences as well as the support of the enterprises with the assumption of innovations and the progress up to the commercialization.
It surrounds us and almost unconsciously accompanies us through everyday life - printed electronics. It starts with smart labels or RFID tags in clothing, we...
The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.
Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.
Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.
Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
25.04.2019 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2019 | Earth Sciences
25.04.2019 | Life Sciences