Laboratories that deal with dangerous chemicals devote a lot of time and money to ensuring the work environment is safe. Since many toxic substances lack a noticeable smell or color, the trick is finding a detection method that alerts employees to their presence as quickly and clearly as possible. Scientists at the the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies may have found a simple answer to that problem in the form of a protective glove that immediately changes color when it comes into contact with hazardous materials.
The researchers fashioned the glove from a textile coated in a dye containing specific sensor particles. These particles react to the presence of certain substances, like carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulfide, by turning a noticeable blue color instantaneously. And since this warning sign appears right on their hands, workers would know within seconds that a poisonous material is uncontained.
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The team says the dye is versatile enough for typical manufacturing processes, silkscreening included, so it could easily be integrated into the safety gear that lab technicians and other workers already use.
The dye could also be attuned to other substances and turned into a tool for finding gas line leaks or indicating when food has spoiled.
The project is still in its early stages, and the researchers are working on an improved version of the dyed textile that could survive a trip through the wash and come in a variety of different colors. They're also looking into adding a sensor module that collects data on any toxic substances in the surrounding area and transmits it to a main hub for analysis.
Source: Fraunhofer Research Institution