New material lights up when spotting explosives

London, Feb 5 (IANS) Scientists have created a new material which lights up if there are molecules from explosives in the vicinity.

The new material consists of TTF-C(4)P and TNDCF set of molecules. TNDCF has the special talent that it becomes fluorescent when an explosives molecule is introduced to the set of molecules, the researchers said.

“This new knowledge could lead to creating a small device based on this set of molecules. With such a device, security staff in airports could, for example, test if there are explosives molecules on or near a bag,” said study first author Steffen Bahring from University of Southern Denmark.

The findings were published in the journal Chemistry – A European Journal.

This is not the first time that scientists reported the development of chemical substances capable of detecting explosives. But previously many uncertainties have been involved, and therefore the methods have not been entirely reliable.

One problem is that previous techniques have been based on a substance that became fluorescent when there were no explosives molecules in the vicinity and that the fluorescence disappeared if the substance came into contact with explosive molecules, the researchers said.

“The problem was that several factors could make the fluorescence disappear; a number of salts for example had this effect. Thus these substances could give off a false alarm,” Bahring explained.

The new material only turns fluorescent when exposed to molecules from explosive and some specific salts, such as those based on chlorine or fluorine.

“There can only be two reasons why it turns fluorescent, one of them being the presence of explosives. Thus this material is a highly reliable tool for detecting explosives,” Bahring noted.

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