Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Silkmoth inspires novel explosive detector

© Fabien Schnell/NS3E Overall view of a microcantilever nanostructured by aligned titanium dioxide nanotubes.
© Fabien Schnell/NS3E

Overall view of a microcantilever nanostructured by aligned titanium dioxide nanotubes.

Abstract:
Imitating the antennas of the silkmoth, Bombyx mori, to design a system for detecting explosives with unparalleled performance is the feat achieved by a team from the "Nanomatériaux pour Systèmes sous Sollicitations Extrêmes" unit (CNRS / Institut Franco-Allemand de Recherches de Saint-Louis), in collaboration with the Laboratoire des Matériaux, Surfaces et Procédés pour la Catalyse (CNRS / Université de Strasbourg). Made up of a silicon microcantilever bearing nearly 500,000 aligned titanium dioxide nanotubes, this device is capable of detecting concentrations of trinitrotoluene (TNT) of around 800 ppq (1) (i.e. 800 molecules of explosive per 10^15 molecules of air), thereby improving one thousand-fold the detection limit attainable until now. This innovative concept could also be used to detect drugs, toxic agents and traces of organic pollutants. This work is published on 29 May 2012 in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Silkmoth inspires novel explosive detector

Paris, France | Posted on June 2nd, 2012

The efficient detection of explosives such as trinitrotoluene (TNT) represents a difficult challenge in terms of security. Indeed, these compounds have very low volatility and it takes extremely sensitive sensors to detect them at a distance. Current systems detect concentrations of around 1 ppb (2) (one molecule per 10^9 molecules of air), but this level of performance can be insufficient to ensure airport security for example. Yet, numerous animals have a sense of smell that can go well below this limit including, for example, the silkmoth (Bombyx mori), capable of reacting to the capture of just a few pheromone molecules. Its antennas are composed of strands of around one millimeter in length, bearing a large of number of sensilla, micrometric sized organs directly connected to the sensory neurons. It is this structure that the researchers sought to imitate.

The system that they have developed comprises a 200-micron long and 30-micron wide silicon microcantilever. This support has been nanostructured with around 500,000 vertically aligned titanium dioxide nanotubes. The role of these nanostructures is to multiply the surface area of the microcantilever by a factor of around one hundred and to proportionally increase the chances of capturing the molecules being searched for. By making the microcantilever vibrate, it is possible to determine whether the ambient air contains traces of TNT and if these molecules have been captured by the device. In fact, the microcantilever has a particular resonance frequency that is modified in a specific manner when it absorbs molecules of explosive.

To test the performance of this device, the researchers released very small quantities of TNT in a controlled manner. In this way, there were able to establish that the sensitivity of the device was 800 ppq (800 molecules per million billion molecules (10^15)). No current device is able to detect such low concentrations of explosives. These performance levels are similar to those of trained sniffer dogs.

Research and development work is still necessary before an easy-to-use device based on these nanostructured levers can be obtained. One of the next steps is to design a device capable of specifically recognizing the type of explosive absorbed. The scientists already hope to adapt these microcantilevers to the detection of other explosives, such as pentrite, which could pose security problems in Europe. Furthermore, this method could also be used to detect various drugs which, like explosives, have very low volatility. In environmental terms, this bio-inspired device could make it possible to measure infinitesimal traces of pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, which have become a major health issue.

1) Ppq (parts per quadrillion) is used to measure the abundance of an element.
2) Ppb (parts per billion) represents a concentration of around 10^-9.

Full bibliographic informationBio-Inspired Nanostructured Sensor for the Detection of Ultralow Concentrations of Explosives. D. Spitzer, T. Cottineau, N. Piazzon, S. Josset, F. Schnell, S. N. Pronkin, E. R. Savinova, and V. Keller. Angewandte Chemie. 29 mai 2012.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Researchers
Denis Spitzer
T +33 (0)3 89 69 50 75


Valérie Keller
T +33 (0)3 68 85 27 36


CNRS press officer
Priscilla Dacher
T +33 (0)1 44 96 46 06 l

Julien Guillaume
+ 33 1 44 96 51 51

Copyright © AlphaGalileo

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

A nano-roundabout for light December 10th, 2016

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Discoveries

A nano-roundabout for light December 10th, 2016

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Announcements

A nano-roundabout for light December 10th, 2016

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Homeland Security

Nanosensors on the alert for terrorist threats: Scientists interested in the prospects of gas sensors based on binary metal oxide nanocomposites November 5th, 2016

Nanobionic spinach plants can detect explosives: After sensing dangerous chemicals, the carbon-nanotube-enhanced plants send an alert November 2nd, 2016

Notre Dame researchers find transition point in semiconductor nanomaterials September 6th, 2016

Down to the wire: ONR researchers and new bacteria August 18th, 2016

Military

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

ANU invention to inspire new night-vision specs December 7th, 2016

Infrared instrumentation leader secures exclusive use of Vantablack coating December 5th, 2016

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project