Researchers have developed a detection method that improves upon current thermal-based methods used in today's airports, while reducing false positives. The technique is able to detect key explosives in just 30 seconds.

The new method, which uses swabbing material to collect samples of explosives, is able to detect substances such as nitrotoluenes, trinitrotriazine, hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, nitroglycerine, and other peroxide-based explosives. The swab spray technique is able to achieve higher-sensitivity results than previously published works and was also tested on dirty surfaces such as new and used keyboards.

The current thermal-based method of detecting explosive material is becoming outdated and has the propensity of producing false positives. The use of paper spray could allow simultaneous detection of other substances such as drugs. The advantage of this system is the ability to uniquely identify the explosive being detected, making it much less likely to create false alarms. The selectivity of the system means that it could also be used to identify a range of other threat materials while the sensitivity would allow the detection of invisible traces of explosives.

For more information, contact Dr. Melanie Bailey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; +44 (0)1483 682593.

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This article first appeared in the February, 2020 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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