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Published:November 23rd, 2012 16:19 EST
Detecting Illegal and Hazardous Chemicals by Using Gold Nanoparticles

Detecting Illegal and Hazardous Chemicals by Using Gold Nanoparticles

By Ron G Anselm

 

Scientists from Imperial College London have developed a new system for detecting trace amounts of chemicals like pollutants, explosives or illegal drugs by using gold nanoparticles.

The process only takes as long to detect any traces of out of the ordinary chemicals as long as it takes a baseball to travel from the pitcher`s mound to home plate, especially if Nolan Ryan was on his game and firing fastballs that tailed faster than a divorce would happen after either spouse got caught doing the nasty to anyone other than their spouse but in science terms the process to detect illegal chemicals by using gold nanoparticles only takes milliseconds to complete the process.

The new system works by picking out a trace of illegal chemical from 10,000 trillion water molecules by isolating it on a single layer of gold nanoparticles. This new technology which was developed by a cracked team of scientists from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial; have paved the way for development of new devices that are compact, reusable, and easy to put together and assemble in no time at all that any law enforcement agency (police, our military, TSA at the Airport, Coast Guard, etc.) can use to bust drug runners, catch terrorists in their tracks, and kick drugs out of our country and off the street.

This new technology is not just limited to detecting illegal drugs but can also detect explosives, illegal pollutants that dirty our rivers and waterways and kill our valuable wildlife that live within those waterways, and can also detect any nerve gasses that may get released into our air. This last part of the new technology is especially useful nowadays with the threat of terrorism looming over our country like a storm cloud ready to let loose a fury of raindrops.

If any of you are ex-military then you know how bad it is when you go through the gas chamber in Army basic training. Part of the Army training is to get you accustomed to any type of chemical attacks while in combat. When you first enter the gas chamber you all line up and wait for the Drill Sergeants to tell you to remove your gas mask and count to ten or maybe try to recite your service number, or whatever for ten to twenty seconds after you are instructed to remove your gas mask and before you move out of the chamber. There is in no way after you remove your mask and get the first whiff of that tear gas that you can think of nothing more than to get the Heck! Out of there. I removed my gas mask and was out of there faster than the Road Runner on the old cartoon wreaking havoc and being a pain in the rear end to the poor coyote or wolf or whatever that other cartoon character was (Haven`t watched that old carton since I was in diapers) And that was only tear gas, imagine if it was nerve gas released in the air by terrorists in a huge metropolitan area? This is why this part of the new technology may prove to be very valuable now and in the future. Going through that gas chamber in basic training mentally makes you grab your gas mask immediately when you hear the word gas, gas, gas!  In combat or combat training. Take it from me; any type of gas attack is extremely bad and needs to be detected and headed off at the pass before it happens.

The other great part of this new technology is it can also detect any traces of explosives or other illegal substances left behind by criminals on the surfaces they touch. So, one the criminal decides to touch any surface and speeds away or walks away from the scene, Nope! Not so fast, Dude, if any testing is done right away that criminal or terrorist can still get caught and put away off the street and in the big house where they belong.

Michael Cecchini who is the Research co-author commented on this by saying, "Our system could solve a key problem of reliable and portable chemical testing for use in the outside world. It is very sensitive and could well be used to look for very small amounts of specific molecules even in busy, public areas." (Cecchini, M.)

The technologies operates when it comes to specific and target molecules works by using what is called Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) of light. This technology is not new to science; in fact it has been around since the 1970s. This technique works because each molecule scatters light in its own unique way. Past on ongoing research which is very costly has proven that the signal can be amplified by catching molecules in a particular way on a layer of metal nanoparticles.

The scientists overcame this problem by dealing with interfaces of two liquids that do not mix, such as water and oil, or water and air interface. By manipulating the electrical charge of the gold nanoparticles and the composition of the solution, they were able to create a situation where the particles line themselves up at the interface between the two non-mixable liquids, or between a liquid and the air. (sciencedaily.com)

Jack Paget who is also another co-author said, "The trick to achieving this system`s sensitivity to the target molecules was in finding the conditions at which nanoparticles would settle at the interface at close distances to each other without fusing together," (Paget, J.)

Sounds almost like something that could be a final exam in Chemistry 101 to have a situation and try to find the solution through science and hypothesis. Therefore, if any of the nanoparticles are disturbed, they spontaneously arrange themselves back in the correct way which makes any of the detecting devices more appealing than those made rigidly arranged particles.

Vladimir Turek who is yet another co-author chimed in on this by saying, "The system shows real promise for detectors for use in rough outdoor environmental and defense applications, since the liquids and nanoparticles can be easily replaced to regenerate the device." (Turek, V.)

So, like the theme from the show Cops goes, "Bad Boys, Bad Boys," what you going to do when they come for you? - (Source: From the Cops theme song) You can run but you can`t hide especially if you are on the other end of this new technology which now closes the door for whoever thinks they are smart enough to try to outsmart science and technology and the future of this new technology.

Reference

Gold Nanoparticles Quickly Detect Hazardous Chemicals, Science Daily

(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120152338.htm) and the quote from the show Cops them song. Retrieved 2012.

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