Cassie Rodenberg: Electron-ic Bonds

Are liquids saved from airport condemnation?
October 20, 2009, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Chemicals

Soon you may not have to trash your water bottle, hand sanitizer and other liquid valuables before going through airport security.

German researchers have found a way to detect and identify explosive liquids commonly used by terrorists. To do this, scientists employ a new technique called Hilbert spectroscopy to effectively tag liquid adversaries.

This method, quicker and more precise than its predecessors, uses electromagnetic radiation over a wide range of frequencies to scan the molecular signatures of liquids. A wider frequency range allows researchers to see more ridges of the molecular thumbprint. This ‘thumbprint,’ electromagnetic information, from the spectroscopic analysis is then converted into electrical signals that alerts to the presence of dangerous compounds.

A device called a Josephson junction, used in electrical signaling, makes this method practical — 0.2 seconds from top to bottom. Before long you won’t be able to blame a slow security check line on liquid contraband.


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