Most airline travelers would agree that airport security, for better or worse, has become extreme. But thanks to a new technology developed in the United States, pat-downs, full-body scans and the seizure of carry-on liquids may soon be history.
Scientists have developed a metallic oxide-based nanomaterial in the form of ink that changes color -- from dark blue to pale yellow or transparent -- in the presence of explosive vapors. The explosive detection ink can be sprayed onto suspicious packages, or incorporated into test-strips that would detect the presence of hydrogen peroxide, the same explosive material found in the footwear of thwarted shoe-bomber Richard Reid in 2001. So far, hydrogen peroxide detection has been a challenge for both airport security officials and troops stationed overseas.
Interestingly, large quantities of the metallic oxide ink can also be used to neutralize hydrogen peroxide bombs. Oklahoma State University chemist Allen Apblett, who is one of the researchers behind the advent of the nanomaterial, says he hopes the bomb-detecting ink will be featured in airport security procedures within a year.