Scientists have developed a spray-on material that both detects terrorist bombs AND renders them harmless. This may end government restrictions on liquids that can be carried onboard airliners. Researcher Allen Apblett says, "This stuff is going to be used anywhere terrorist explosives are used, including battlefields, airports, and subways. It’s going to save lives." The spray is a type of ink made of tiny metallic oxide nanoparticles so small that 50,000 could fit inside the diameter of a single human hair. The ink changes color, from dark blue to pale yellow or clear, in the presence of explosives. This color change allows the material to work as a sensor for quickly detecting the presence of vapors produced by explosives.
Soldiers or firefighters could wear sensors that have been doused with the spray as badges on their uniforms or use them as paper-based test strips. Airports, subways and other facilities could use the sensors as part of stationary monitoring devices. The sensors could even be engineered into jewelry and cell phones. The same color-changing material can also serve as an explosives neutralizer. Firefighters and bomb squad technicians could spray the ink onto bombs or suspicious packages until the color change indicates that the devices are no longer a threat. Technicians could also dump the explosives into vats containing the ink to neutralize them.
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