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Using Silicon Nanowires to Detect Explosives

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Posted August 22, 2013

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed a technology, using silicon to fabricate a sensor that may revolutionize the way trace chemical detection is conducted.

The sensor, called Silicon Nanowires in a Vertical Array with a Porous Electrode, or SiN-VAPOR, is a small, portable, lightweight, low power, low overhead sensor that NRL researchers hope can be distributed to warfighters in the field and to security personnel at airports across the globe.

Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are homemade bombs that can both injure and kill civilians and service members. For the Department of Defense, one solution to the problem of IEDs is to find them before they explode by detecting the chemicals used in the explosives.

The NRL-developed SiN-VAPOR architecture is unique and different from other similar technologies in that it is a 3D architecture, so NRL researchers are maximizing the surface area in order to maximize the sensing capabilities within the sensor.

The SiN-VAPOR sensor has demonstrated detection capability on the parts-per-billion, and even parts-per-trillion, level of sensitivity.

Source: Armed with Science

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