May 27, 2008 Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a spray-on explosive detector that glows blue under UV light in the presence of nitrogen-containing explosives. The silafluorene-fluorene copolymer is sensitive enough to detect just a billionth of a gram of explosive.

The polymer detects particles instead of vapor, making it accurate enough to act as a switchable sensor with picogram (10-15g) detection limits – the first polymer of its kind to do so. After further exposure, nitrate esters like trinitroglycerin will change color to a green-yellow, with nitroaromatic explosives like TNT remaining blue, increasing its usefulness to investigators and forensic analysts.


Read the site and newsletter without ads. Use the coupon code EOFY before June 30 for 30% off the usual price.


The technology is currently being commercially produced by RedXDefense. The researchers are now working on a similar system to detect peroxide-based explosives, with hopes to investigate perchlorates and organic nitrates further down the road.