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Nano Sensor

November 13, 2014

A nanotechnology based chemical sensor could reveal the presence of explosives, drugs or just about anything else.




Ling Zang holds a prototype detector that uses a new type of carbon nanotube material for use in handheld scanners. (Photo Credit: Dan Hixon/University of Utah College of Engineering)

A high speed nano nose. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Carbon nanotubes are microscopic cylinders that excite material scientists, because they’re extremely strong, and have electrical properties that make them useful for solar cells, batteries, biomedical materials, and a lot of other applications. But for all their intriguing potential, practical devices have been slow in coming. University of Utah material scientist Ling Zang reports in the journal Advanced Materials on a carbon nanotube-based sensor that could be tuned to detect almost any molecule.

LING ZANG (University of Utah):

So we develop a hand-held device which can be used to detect…explosives, toxic chemicals, and also drugs.


Zang has demonstrated prototypes, and has a company working to manufacture them. He says the technology is best-suited for uses like airport security, where people need to identify materials quickly and accurately. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.