Print 8 comment(s) - last by blowfish.. on Nov 15 at 8:13 AM

New electronic sensor  (Source:
Over 200 sensors make this device ultra-sensitive, and its portability makes it easier to use

A researcher from Tel Aviv University has created a small, portable electronic sensor that is capable of detecting several types of explosives. 

Fernando Patolsky, lead researcher and a professor at Tel Aviv University's Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Chemistry, has designed a powerful and sensitive electronic sensor that can detect multiple kinds of explosives.

Previous explosive-detecting devices have proven to be problematic because they're large, expensive, require expert analysis and have lengthy decoding times. These negative aspects make the devices difficult for every day use. 

But now, Patolsky developed an inexpensive, lightweight, portable instrument capable of detecting explosives quickly and efficiently without requiring an expert to read it. The electronic sensor is made from an array of silicon nanowires that are coated with a compound that bonds to explosives forming a nanotransistor. Approximately 200 sensors, which detect different types of explosives, were developed to make the electronic sensor much more sensitive than previous devices. 

In fact, this electronic sensor is capable of detecting explosives from a distance. Its portability allows it to be mounted on walls or at any other distance, out of sight of the people or items being checked for explosives. The device then provides "definitive identification" of any explosive that is detected. 

So far, the electronic sensor has not had any detection errors and Patolsky has noted that this device can "out-sniff" a canine who is trained to perform the same task. Security companies have began to notice how efficient the device is, and have already developed a prototype based on the patent. Nanergy Inc., an American thin film technology company and developer of the prototype, is looking to contact potential partners in order to sell these sensors commercially. 

"There is a need for a small, inexpensive, handheld instrument capable of detecting explosives quickly, reliably and efficiently," said Patolsky. 

The next step is to use these types of sensors to also detect biological threats and toxins such as cholera, botulinum and anthrax. 

This study was published in Angewandte Chemie.

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By quiksilvr on 11/11/2010 2:38:30 PM , Rating: 5
Now these adorable guys are out of a job:

RE: Great...
By nomagic on 11/11/2010 2:55:49 PM , Rating: 2
I am impressed. There is a godzilla rat with the size of a cat in the video.

RE: Great...
By Samus on 11/11/2010 6:12:37 PM , Rating: 2

By nstott on 11/12/2010 11:46:56 AM , Rating: 2
Professor Timothy Swager at MIT developed a hand-held, TNT-based explosives detector some years ago that is as sensitive as a dog's nose called "FIDO." More recent versions in development over the past couple of years are more sensitive than canines and will be able to detect a variety of explosives, including PETN. The unit was then developed with him by ICx Technologies and many were purchased by the US Army, US Navy, and DHS. It has been mounted on small, mobile, treaded units that have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to detect landmines and IEDs. The big question, of course, is why we need the virtual strip scanners at the airports when these would be more effective and less intrusive, and the answer likely has something to do with politics and insider investments.

The downside of FIDO is that it requires a cartridge that must be replaced on a regular basis (about every couple of days) as the conducting polymers used in the sensor degrade over time. This new technology out of Tel Aviv is more robust since is uses inorganic materials. However, the method as it is presented in the literature could create a lot of false positives since it uses simple acid-base interactions, so calling it more sensitive than a canine is a bit misleading. For example, it would also detect vinegar from salad dressing, so the detector could be overwhelmed in a real-world situation even if it is calibrated for a specific explosive. Modifying this technology for more selective chemical interactions will increase the effectiveness drastically, and I expect such will come out in future work.

By blowfish on 11/15/2010 8:13:53 AM , Rating: 2
This puts me in mind of the discovery that trained dogs can sniff out melanoma cancers with 99.9% accuracy - far higher then any existing tests.

In the UK, they said "great, let's train more dogs".

In the US, they said "great, let's develop a machine that's even more sensitive".

After all, how could a dumb animal be better than a trained medical practitioner? How could that practitioner maintain his iflated salary if a dumb animal was more effective at detecting cancers. (and other diseases)

Bear in mind that in the US, with its predatory health care system, perfected to suck out all the available money from the young, the old and the chronically sick, an estimated 30% of interventions are unnecessary or downright harmful.

In land mine clearance, another dumb animal is far more effective than any other method - the African pouched rat.

Oh Yes!
By AssBall on 11/11/2010 4:14:21 PM , Rating: 2
Michael Vick can get back in business now. I lost thousands....


What else will trigger this?
By kbsubs on 11/12/2010 7:18:40 AM , Rating: 2
Had a case where an explosives detector was triggered by a container of powdered coffee creamer (forget which brand).
Makes one wonder what goes into that stuff!

Replace TSA AIT scanners?
By gstrickler on 11/13/2010 3:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
Let's get these thoroughly tested. If they work as claimed, get them into production, and replace the invasive and inappropriate TSA AIT full-body scanners with these plus the older metal/electronics detecting scanners. Safer, cheaper, more effective, non-invasive, and less costly. It's a win for everyone (except the AIT scanner manufacturers).

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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