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Explosives

A new system that utilizes laser light to detect the presence of explosive compounds could...

Approximately sixty percent of coalition soldier deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), placed along the roads. Because these bombs are often planted in public areas, it is important to detect them in a way that doesn’t harm the surrounding infrastructure, or unnecessarily require civilians to evacuate nearby buildings. Researchers from Michigan State University believe that a laser-based system that they developed could fit the bill.  Read More

A new sensor system incorporating protein found in bee venom can detect explosives down to...

Not only do bees play a vital role in agriculture by pollinating plants, but it now turns out that they may help keep us from getting blown up. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have shown that bombolitins, which are protein fragments found in bee venom, can be used to detect single molecules of nitro-aromatic explosives such as TNT. If used in sensors at locations such as airports, those sensors would be much more sensitive than those currently in use.  Read More

The prototype BioExplorers system uses live sniffer mice to detect explosives (Photo: Rama...

Mice ... they may nibble our food, poop in our cupboards, and make us go "eek," but they may also someday keep us from getting blown up. Before they can do that, however, Israeli tech company BioExplorers has to get its mouse-based explosives detection system out of the prototype stage and into production. If it ever does see the light of day, then people at airports, arenas, and other high terrorism-risk areas may routinely be getting a sniff-down by containers of live rodents.  Read More

Dr. June Medford, with some of her pollutant- and explosive-sniffing plants

There may come a day when certain plants in your workplace suddenly turn white, at which point everyone will run screaming from the building – those co-workers will have been right to do so, as the white plants indicated that a toxic gas was present. Before that scenario can take place, a little more work still needs to be done, and Colorado State University (CSU) biologist Dr. June Medford is doing it. Using a computer-designed detection trait, she is creating plants that stop producing chlorophyll when they detect pollutants or explosives in the air.  Read More

A Stryker lies on its side following a buried IED blast in Iraq in 2007

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have attracted a lot of attention as a result of their use in Iraq and Afghanistan, but IEDs are used by guerillas and terrorist groups in many parts of the world, including Colombia. Being sensitive to the problem of IEDs, two Colombian doctoral students from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) set about looking for a way to explode such devices at a distance. In collaboration with two Colombian Universities the EPFL students developed a device that can explode IEDs remotely by using energy from their electromagnetic impulses.  Read More

Blast exposure disrupts the nanostructure of the 'Blast Badge,' resulting in clear changes...

Blast-induced traumatic brain injury from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is the "signature wound" of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the damage to the brain often not immediately obvious and no objective information of relative blast exposure, soldiers may not receive appropriate medical care and are at risk of being returned to the battlefield too soon. To overcome this inadequacy, researchers have developed a color-changing patch that could be worn on soldiers’ helmets and uniforms to indicate the strength of exposure to blasts from explosives in the field.  Read More

Tel Aviv University's explosive-detecting sensor (Image: AFTAU)

The recent Yemeni bomb threat has only highlighted the need for quick, accurate ways of detecting explosives. With their excellent sense of smell and the ability to discern individual scents, even when they’re combined or masked by other odors, this task is usually given to man’s best friend. But training these animals can be expensive and good sniffer dogs can be hard to find. Scientists have now developed an electronic sensor they say is more sensitive and more reliable at detecting explosives than any sniffer dog.  Read More

The handheld TATP detector prototype (Photo: Kenneth Suslick)

Much as we might hate having to take our shoes off when going through airport security, it’s become necessary ever since a terrorist managed to get a shoe bomb aboard an American Airlines flight in December of 2001. Unfortunately, the X-raying of shoes is not enough to detect triacetone triperoxide (TATP). This easily-made explosive has been used in several bombing attempts, and is very difficult to detect in an airport environment. It doesn't fluoresce, absorb ultraviolet light or readily ionize, and can only be detected with large, expensive equipment and extensive sample preparation. Now, chemists from the University of Illinois have announced a simple new way of detecting even minute concentrations of TATP, using a piece of plastic and a digital camera.  Read More

Airman 1st Class Patrick Connolly of Dayton, Ohio, demonstrates the placement of the water...

According to the Pentagon, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are the number one killer and threat to troops in Afghanistan. Now a new tool that shoots a blade of water capable of penetrating steel is headed to U.S. troops in Afghanistan to help them disable these deadly devices. Developed by Sandia National Laboratories researchers, the fluid blade disablement tool produces a high-speed, precise water blade to perform some precision type destruction on whatever IED it’s up against.  Read More

Members of the Rensselaer terahertz sensing research team (Photo: Rensselaer/Daria Robbins...

Hidden explosives, chemical weapons, biological agents and illegal drugs could one day be optically detectable from up to 20 meters away. How? Well, every substance has its own unique terahertz (THz) radiation “fingerprint”, the waves of which pass through anything other than metal or liquid. Scientists from New York state’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are working on a way of analyzing those waves, then determining what substance they’re emanating from. The process would be harmless to both the subject and the observer, and could make the world a much safer place.  Read More

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