Polymer Swab Detects Explosive Residue

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When inspecting cargo and passengers at airports, security screeners typically employ swab-based methods to capture residual explosive materials that may remain on luggage or clothing handled by anyone that makes bombs. The number of daily screening operations worldwide is more than 10,000. There has been relatively little refinement to the design and fabrication of swabs, nor optimization for interrogating the surfaces of the sampled objects. Current materials include muslin fabric swabs, Teflon-coated fiberglass swabs, paper swabs, and Nomex swabs. These are used primarily for historical reasons, with few attempts to improve their performance at interrogating the surfaces of interest.

Purdue University researchers have developed a new device, Nanobrush, a highly pliant, deformable material that is thermally stable from 200 to 250 degrees Celsius and is inexpensive to produce. It does not leave a residue on surfaces it contacts, and it can dislodge and capture explosive residue from cavities that may be as small as 10 microns wide by 10 microns deep. The functionality of the Nanobrush can be improved by attaching functional groups to the tips of the fibers. This technology will substantially improve the ability to detect trace amounts of explosive materials, biological warfare agents, and other substances of interest to the Department of Homeland Security.

Advantages:
-Dislodges particles from extremely small cavities
-Improves ability to detect trace amounts of substances

Potential Applications:
-Airports
-Security screening
-Explosive material detection
Sep 18, 2015
Utility Patent
United States
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Sep 18, 2014
Provisional-Patent
United States
(None)
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Mar 21, 2013
Provisional-Patent
United States
(None)
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Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
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