Colorimetric Sensors to Track Shoe-Bombing Explosives

It is highly challenging to track Triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a chemical explosive that is commonly deployed in shoe-bombing trials. Recently, scientists have devised a colorimetric sensor sequence that have the potentiality to detect even small traces of TATP vapor present in the air.

The sensor series fabricated by Hengwei Lin and Kenneth Suslick of the University of Illinois encompasses 16 miniature pigmented dots that will alter the color with reference to the extent of TATP vapor contained in the atmosphere. Every single pigmented dot alters the colors based on the amount of TATP present in the air and the sensor sequence can then be photographed by means of an imager or a scanner. The conventional TATP tracking methodologies deployed high-cost devices or needed large quantities of TATP in the atmosphere in contrast to the novel sensors which can identify even the range of two ppb of the chemical.

According to the researchers at the University of Illinois, the mode of color alteration is a specific molecular fingerprint for the detection of even minute concentrations of TATP that can be tracked within no time. The sensor sequence is highly flexible to the TATP chemical, is resistant to fluctuations in the humidity level or to other chemicals, has a longer life-span and thus can be widely used in airports and other areas for ensuring security.

The scientists used a common flatbed scanning device to exhibit their sensor technology and in addition, they have devised an operative handy model of the equipment. This mobile device can be deployed for scanning shoes or luggage and features an economical white LED lighting and a basic digital imager identical to that which is used in a mobile phone camera.


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