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Tel Aviv University Scientists Create Sensors to Identify Explosives

Tel Aviv University scientists have created a nanotechnology-based electronic sensor, which can identify various forms of deadly chemicals. Fernando Patolsky, a professor at the Sackler School of Chemistry, who led the team of researchers, stated that the sensor is quick and handy and is more effective and trustworthy in identifying explosives than sniffer dogs.

The current techniques of identifying explosives such as TNT have disadvantages such as being more bulky, high cost, long detecting time and the necessity of a laboratory examination, he added.

Nanergy, an Israel-based company that manufactures fuel cells for immobile backup power and transportable electronics, has manufactured a trial product according to the patent. The company is already in touch with the firms, which manufacture sensors for detecting explosives.

In the sensor, silicon nanowires are arrayed to create an electronic nanotransistor, which has a superior sensitivity towards the electrical environment that surrounds the sensor. The scientists covered the nanowires with a compound, which can attach to the explosive. They attached 200 individual sensors on the wires to improve the sensitivity, which can identify various explosives with a high degree of consistency.

Portability and ability to detect explosives from a  long distance are the two significant benefits of the new sensor. Patolsky stated that the sensor could detect the explosive’s identity without contacting the object  under investigation. The sensors can also be employed to detect biological poisons such as botulinum, cholera and anthrax. The applications of the sensor include national security, medical and biological market.


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