Thin Film Fluorescent Sensors for Explosives Detection

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Project Description

Fluorescence is one of the most sensitive analytical techniques available and is well suited for application to detection of trace levels of explosives because analytes can be observed at picogram to femtogram levels. The problem is that most explosives are not emissive, and so cannot be directly detected by fluorescence. To circumvent this issue, materials that can both emit light and interact with explosives are used. The detection system works by observing changes in the intensity of the emitted light: if the fluorescent material encounters an explosive, the fluorescence signal is modulated, indicating the presence of the explosive.

This project is designed to develop sensor arrays that have improved sensitivity, selectivity and adaptability for the detection of explosives. Sensitivity is enhanced by exploiting a multilayer structure that increases the light output from fluorescence by three orders of magnitude. Selectivity is achieved by using sensor arrays that, in conjunction with pattern recognition algorithms, provide different response sets for different analytes. Finally, adaptability arises because the sensor array can be trained to respond to new threats as they are identified.

Project Leader
  • William B. Euler
    Professor & Chair, Chemistry

Students Currently Involved in Project
  • Mona Alhasani
  • Mingyu Liu
  • Matthew Mullen
  • Elsa Ortega
  • Hui Qi Zhang
  • Sangmin You