WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 — A two-in-one material that can both detect and neutralize explosives of the type favored by Richard Reid, the notorious shoe bomber who tried to blow-up a commercial airliner in 2001, is the topic of the latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) award-winning “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions” podcast.
The podcast explains that the detector/neutralizer is a material made of metal oxide nanoparticles so small that 50,000 could fit across the width of a single human hair. It changes color in the presence of certain explosives, alerting emergency responders to the threat. The material also can be sprayed onto bombs or suspicious packages to inactivate certain explosives, according to Allen Apblett, Ph.D., study leader. “This stuff is going to be used anywhere terrorist explosives are, says Apblett, who reported at the ACS’ 241st National Meeting & Exposition in Anaheim, CA.
Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a podcast describing some of the 21st Century’s most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Global Challenges is a sweeping panorama of global challenges that includes dilemmas such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of safe food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children; and improving human health. During the 2011 global celebration of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC), Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions also is focusing on the main themes of IYC — health, environment, energy, and materials.