Scientists to develop a new material to detect explosives

Scientists have created a new material which turns fluorescent the presence of molecules of explosives. Scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have perfected a new compound labeled TTF-C[4]P and TNDCF, which become luminous when they encounter molecules of explosives in the air.

It’s an ongoing battle between security agencies and terrorists who are devising better ways to disguise explosives and cause mayhem. Security checks are getting more and more intrusive in airports and other places where there is crowding.

It’s also a fact that terrorists target such places to cause maximum carnage and get publicity. Efforts are on to ensure minimum discomfort to people while executing searches and frisking.

Steffen Bahring, author of a scientific paper on the subject which was recently published in the Journal Chemistry said that the discovery will pave the way for the design of a small device based on the discovery.

Security staff at airports will be able to scan baggage and ensure that no explosives slip past. It will also cause the least discomfort to real passengers and will also reduce the time for security checks.

Such materials were discovered earlier also. However, Bahring explains several factors could make the fluorescence disappear, and some salts have this effect thus triggering a false alarm.

The new material only turns luminous in the presence of traces of molecules of explosives like TNB and some salts based on chlorine and fluorine.

Most explosives are unstable and made of compounds with weakly bonded molecules. These molecules constantly respond to the environment making it difficult to detect.

Understanding the process of these compounds containing weakly bonded molecules has been a big challenge.

Bahring added that creating a chain of different weakly bonded molecules was a big challenge which has been successfully achieved.