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Printer The Military Hardware Technology

Paper-Based Explosives Sensor Made Using an Inkjet 44

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-me-print-something-up-for-you dept.
cylonlover writes "Detecting explosives is a vital task both on the battlefield and off, but it requires equipment that, if sensitive enough to detect explosives traces in small quantities, is often expensive, delicate and difficult to construct. Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute have developed a method of manufacturing highly sensitive explosives detectors incorporating RF components using Ink-jet printers. This holds the promise of producing large numbers of detectors at lower cost using local resources."
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Paper-Based Explosives Sensor Made Using an Inkjet

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  • by iamhassi (659463) on Monday October 31, 2011 @09:05AM (#37893586) Journal
    I'm tired of these articles from clueless reporters, do they not know what a circuit board is? It's simply copper connections between circuits. If you can put liquid copper or any highly conductive metal in a ink cartridge then you can create almost any electrical device with a inkjet printer.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2011 @09:17AM (#37893670)

      "The process of creating the sensor involves printing carbon nanotubes on paper or "paper-like" materials, such as the plastic polyethylene terephthalate. The ink consists of silver nanoparticles held in an emulsion that can be passed through an ink-jet printer at a temperature of only 212 F (100 C). This ink is treated with ultrasonic waves in a process known as sonification, which alters the viscosity and makes the ink more homogeneous for greater effectiveness. As it sets, the ink forms into nanoscale cylinders called nanotubes. These are only one-billionth of a meter in diameter-about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. When these nanotubes are coated with a conductive polymer that attracts ammonia it becomes an effective explosives sensor capable of detecting trace amounts of ammonia as low as five parts per million. With different coatings, the nanotubes can detect other gases."

      Yeah, nothing more interesting than a variant of the old copper circuit board in this article.

      • by Bob-taro (996889)

        "The process of creating the sensor involves printing carbon nanotubes on paper or "paper-like" materials, such as the plastic polyethylene terephthalate. The ink consists of silver nanoparticles held in an emulsion that can be passed through an ink-jet printer at a temperature of only 212 F (100 C). This ink is treated with ultrasonic waves in a process known as sonification, which alters the viscosity and makes the ink more homogeneous for greater effectiveness. As it sets, the ink forms into nanoscale cylinders called nanotubes. These are only one-billionth of a meter in diameter-about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. When these nanotubes are coated with a conductive polymer that attracts ammonia it becomes an effective explosives sensor capable of detecting trace amounts of ammonia as low as five parts per million. With different coatings, the nanotubes can detect other gases."

        Yeah, nothing more interesting than a variant of the old copper circuit board in this article.

        Good point. I have no mod points, but I can loan my karma.

    • by pz (113803)

      Heck, if you design your circuit well enough, the ink doesn't even have to be highly conductive! I've often wondered if plain old inkjet ink or laser toner would be good enough, since the blackness in both cases comes from carbon powder.

    • It's not about the circuit, it's about the sensor itself. They use a printer head to print particles that form nanotubes on the paper.That is actually something to be proud of, if you can achieve that.
  • The cheaper the detectors get, the more widespread they will become. Is that a good thing? Probably good for the detector producing industry, and for the inkjet printer producers too. But for us, human beings?

    • by Eraesr (1629799)
      I don't think hiding explosives is something that falls under privacy rights.
      • That really depends on what you are actually hiding - or not hiding - and why.

        I don't think it's appropriate for people to walk around with explosives, no. I also don't think it's appropriate for government to have an unlimited ability to snoop on me as much as I want or come busting into my house because their piece of paper detected ammonia.

        Privacy rights are not about protecting the people who are hiding bombs. They're about protecting the much larger section of the population who aren't.

        Innocent until

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      That entirely depends on what else sets them off. Even a 1% false positive result would be pretty bad. It also depends on the definition of "explosive". To me, gunpowder is an explosive - I'd certainly hope that loading a few shells won't get me flagged by one of these.

    • Reminds me of Rage when the Authority first enters Wellspring. You go talk to Olive who's talking about the propaganda-monolith they dropped in the town square and their little flying robots.

      "...if they think they can scare us with those things, they're wrong."

      And then you turn around and one of the drones is RIGHT THERE SCANNING YOU D:

  • by Chrisq (894406)
    lets ban the export of Laser printers, we can't let this technology get into the hands of the Chinese ..... Oh Wait!
  • 1. Place sample here
    2. Fold here
    3. Fold here
    4. Tightly twist the blue-printed area
    5. Light the blue touchpaper and stand well clear.

    Presence of explosives is indicated by loud "fwoosh!" noise, bright light and subsequent absence of eyebrows.

  • by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Monday October 31, 2011 @10:50AM (#37894706) Homepage
    Low cost!?! Have these guys ever tried buying a new ink cartridge for an ink jet printer?
  • The real cost here is not that of the sensor. It's the actions you have to take each time an alarm goes off. Lots of people (construction workers etc) handle explosives on a regular basis, and it leaves traces on them and their clothes.

    And just wait until teenagers realize that all they have to do to get a day off from school is buy a bag of potassium nitrate at the grocery store and pour some out in the hallway.

  • That way, when you get up to the TSA kiosk at security, if your ticket develops the words "I have a bomb" on it, you go into the "I have a bomb" line, and everyone else goes into the "no bombs, it's just a diaper, my boyfriend is an astronaut, long story" line.

  • The article uses the verb 'can' in a number of places where 'might be possible' is probably more appropriate. They also don't mention the extremely short shelf life of silver nanotubules. Typical univeristy research hype piece.
  • by bingoUV (1066850)

    What's wrong with dear old low-tech versatile dog?

  • Then the government will buy the tech, and suddenly each one is 1,200X more expensive. And not because it needs to be MIL-SPEC standard, just because there will be an entire new department to deal with it, maybe even with a Printer Czar for the fun of it. So sick of the government right now. (Yes, I do vote)

  • I misread the title as 'Expletives sensor' and thought 'wow, are the three seashells next?'

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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