Explosive detecting sensors are used around the world for all sorts of things from screening passengers heading to planes at airports to being used on the battlefield to find IEDs before they can hurt our soldiers. The problem with explosive sensors today is that the low cost sensors aren’t very accurate and the accurate sensors are very expensive.
Scientists from the Georgia Tech Research Institute lead by Dr. Krishna Naishadham have created a new and cheap sensor that is also sensitive. The sensor the researchers created is made using an ink jet printable ammonia sensor that can be used practically to detect explosives. Ammonia is a key component used in the construction of many forms of explosives.
The sensor printing process places carbon nanotubes on paper or other paper-like materials. The ink also has silver nanoparticles that are held in emulsion able to pass through the printer at a temperature of 212F. As the ink settles on the paper, it forms into the nanotubes. By coating the nanotubes with different materials they can detect different gasses. The ammonia sensor is able to detect trace amounts of ammonia as low as five parts per million.