A team of MIT researchers has discovered a new explosives detection method that is 30 times more sensitive than other methods. The team, led by chemistry professor Timothy M. Swager and Vladimir Bulovic, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, developed a semiconducting organic polymer that is extremely sensitive to vapors released by explosives such as trinitrotoluene (TNT). Exposure to ultraviolet light ordinarily causes this polymer to emit a beam of laser light. Molecules in the vapor from explosives, however, bind to the material’s surface, preventing lasing and extinguishing the beam.
The scientists believe that the technology could be as effective as trained bomb-sniffing dogs. “While dogs are pretty irreplaceable in terms of their ability to smell small amounts of explosives, they get tired very easily, and they can only work a couple hours a day,” says Aimee Rose, PhD ‘03, a visiting scientist at MIT and a researcher at Stillwater, OK-based technology development firm Nomadics. Rose also notes that the MIT technology, which grew out of her doctoral work, may be able to detect explosives at greater distances than dogs or currently available man-made sensors can–a particularly desirable feature for people hunting land mines and suicide bombs. Nomadics has licensed the technology, aiming to incorporate it into its existing line of bomb detectors within the next two years. – By Lisa Scanlon
Rest of the article
Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid
Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.
A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of
The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.
It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.
If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.
Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.
When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.