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University of Connecticut scientists have developed a novel buried explosive detection system using a nanofiberous film and ultraviolet light. Image, top, shows a Petri dish (left) with buried trace levels of 2,4-DNT explosive in soil and a Petri dish (right) without DNT. Image, bottom, shows each Petri dish after application of the chemical sensing film and following 30 minutes exposure under ultraviolet light. The location of the buried DNT appears in the Petri dish (left) as a dark blot on the film.


A chemical sensing system developed by engineers at the University of Connecticut is believed to be the first of its kind capable of detecting vapors from buried landmines and other explosive devices with the naked eye rather than advanced scientific instrumentation.

The research was first reported in the May 11, 2012 online edition of Advanced Functional Materials.

The key to the system is a fluorescent nanofiberous film that can detect ultra-trace levels of explosive vapors and buried explosives when applied to an area where explosives are suspected. A chemical reaction marking the location of the explosive device occurs when the film is exposed to handheld ultraviolet light.

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