New colour-changing film detect chemical weapons

New colour-changing film can detect chemical weapons

4:49 AM, 29th January 2015
New colour-changing film can detect chemical weapons
Scientists are developing thin films that change colour from white to blue in response to chemical weapons.

WASHINGTON DC, US: In today’s world, in which the threat of terrorism looms, there is an urgent need for fast, reliable tools to detect the release of deadly chemical warfare agents (CWAs). In the journal ACS Macro Letters, scientists are reporting new progress toward thin-film materials that could rapidly change colours in the presence of CWAs — an advance that could help save lives and hold aggressors accountable.

In their paper, Timothy M Swager and Jonathan G Weis pointed out that there are many techniques available to detect CWAs. One of the most effective ways for a sensor to show quickly whether chemicals weapons are in the environment is through a distinct colour change. Several tests can do this when they’re exposed to CWAs, but of these, most are based on liquids, which are not as practical as thin films. Thin films are critical for real-time detection because they are easier to use and can work continuously. Swager and Weis wanted to address this gap.

With that goal in mind, the researchers produced a new thin-film material and tested it using a substance that mimics a chemical nerve agent. It rapidly changed color in response to the agent. The researchers concluded that a family of such materials could be developed to sense various chemical threats.

 

© American Chemical Society News

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