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Explosives

Detonation of a laser-guided warhead on an armored personnel carrier (Photo: Eglin AFB 780...

The advent of unmanned combat vehicles is generating a need for smaller weapon systems to fit their reduced dimensions. As a result, more powerful explosives are being sought to get the most performance from smaller warheads. Introduction of new explosives is a rather slow process, as premature detonation of an explosive is extremely embarrassing. The desire for higher-performance explosives persists, though, so explosive chemists get used to dancing along the edge of instability. Fortunately, new chemistry occasionally appears that pushes the edge back a bit. The recent synthesis of a stable, high-performance explosive by a research team at the University of Michigan indicates that such new chemistry is now at hand.  Read More

The SAPBER device (right), paired with an existing bomb disposal robot

While improvised explosive devices are certainly not designed to be “safe,” pipe bombs are particularly notorious for being unstable. When police forces respond to calls regarding such bombs, they usually utilize a remote-control bomb disposal robot to disable or detonate them. Unfortunately, this process often results in a loss of forensic evidence, that could be used to track down the bomb-maker. That’s where the Department of Homeland Security’s new Semi Autonomous Pipe Bomb End-cap Remover (SAPBER) comes into play. It’s a device that dismantles pipe bombs, leaving all of their components intact.  Read More

Under UV light, the nanofibrous film detects trace 2,4-DNT explosive buried in a flower po...

Engineers at the University of Connecticut (UConn) have developed a fluorescent nanofibrous film capable of detecting ultra-trace levels of explosive vapors from landmines and other buried explosive devices. In the presence of explosive molecules, the film’s fluorescence is suppressed when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. In this way, the lightweight film, which is similar to paper, could be rolled out over suspect areas to mark the location of explosive devices.  Read More

The Blast Gauge is a self contained device that captures the abrupt changes in pressure an...

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is extending the testing of its Blast Gauge that measures the abrupt pressure and acceleration changes a soldier is exposed to in the event of a exposure to a blast. These external forces can result in traumatic brain injury (TBI), an often invisible injury that can cause a host of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral effects. DARPA’s Blast Gauge is designed to provide medics with quantitative data to better identify those at risk of TBI so as to provide better treatment.  Read More

The SAPER mobile application uses the device's embedded magnetometer to turn a smartphone ...

With unexploded ordnance and land mines remaining a serious global problem, we’ve seen many efforts to develop new technology to detect these dangers, such as using terahertz waves and inkjet-printable sensors. But instead of relying on the development of new technology, some students at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw have sought to use an existing one in a new way with the development of their SAPER explosives detection app for smartphones.  Read More

After the laser beam hits the sample, the scattered light is collected by a telescope and ...

Contrary to what some cartoons might have led you to believe, explosives aren’t always emblazoned with the letters TNT making them easy to identify. Some people will actually go to the trouble of disguising explosives by placing them in nondescript containers. This means that to analyze them, some close quarter examination that puts someone at risk is usually required. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have developed a detection method using laser light that allows explosives to be detected not only from distances of over 100 meters (328 ft), but works even when the explosives are hidden inside an opaque container.  Read More

Prof. Robert Zoellner, with a model of the molecule created by ten year-old Clara Lazen

I don't know about other people, but when I was a child, I was inventing things such as a musical instrument made out of a folded piece of cardboard and some rubber bands. Ten year-old Clara Lazen, however, has done something a little more noteworthy. The fifth-grader from Kansas City, Missouri, built a model of a molecule that is new to science. If the molecule itself were to actually be created, it could possibly be used for energy storage, or in explosives.  Read More

The Vehicle Protection Jammer is designed to block radio signals being transmitted to road...

Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, are one of the largest sources of coalition casualties in Iraq. Many of these IEDs take the form of roadside bombs, which are hidden on or alongside a road, then detonated when a moving vehicle passes near them. While there is more than one way of causing these bombs to detonate, they are often set off by a hidden human observer, using a radio-control device. Forces using the new Vehicle Protection Jammer from EADS subsidiary Cassidian, however, should find themselves at a greatly-reduced risk of such attacks.  Read More

A test firing of Lockheed Martin's GMLRS (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Aerojet has conducted a successful demonstration of its "scalable effects" warhead. The recent flight test was carried out at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico using Lockheed Martin's new Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System-Plus (GMLRS+). As the name suggests, the scalable effects warhead allows the user to select the explosive yield of the weapon depending on the nature of its intended target.  Read More

The graphene foam is macroscopic in total size (left), yet has nanoscopic internal structu...

For some time now, scientists have known that certain nanostructures are very sensitive to the presence of various chemicals and gases, making them good candidates for use in explosives-detecting devices. Unfortunately, because they're so small, mounting a single nanostructure within such a device would be an extremely fiddly and costly process. They would also be quite fragile, plus it would be difficult to clean the detected gas from them, so they could be reused. Recently, however, scientists from New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have figured out a solution to those problems. They have created a postage stamp-sized piece of foam made from one continuous piece of graphene, that is easy to manipulate, flexible, rugged, simple to neutralize after each use ... and is ten times more sensitive than traditional polymer sensors.  Read More

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