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Paper-Based Explosives Sensor Made Using an Inkjet

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the let-me-print-something-up-for-you dept.

Printer 44

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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In related news, (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893538)

Explosive termites have been selectively bred to attack paper-based explosives sensors.

Just how common are those paper based explosives (0)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893558)

it detects anyway?

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (2, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893642)

Big E-Books are pushing for a ban on paper books on airlines, so they can sell more E-Readers.

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37897416)

Big E-Books are pushing for a ban on paper books on airlines, so they can sell more E-Readers.

[citation needed]

Personally, I heard that the reverse vampires are the ones really in charge.

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (2)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893648)

RTFS.

Apparently this doesn't detect explosives, anyway - it detects ammonia. The cleaning lady will set off every sensor on the base.

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893766)

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (1)

anubi (640541) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904570)

A urine soaked diaper soon emits large quantities of ammonia when bacteria decompose the urea.

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893672)

Paper isn't usually the feedstock(cotton fibers are preferred); but my good friend Nitrocellulose [wikipedia.org] is arguably a 'paper-based-explosive'. Heck, assuming your print head can take the pain, you could even use an inkjet to apply the nitric acid to the paper and produce a printed, paper-based explosive for the printed, paper-based explosive detector to detect...

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893698)

The paper is common enough (and easily to hide) but the liquid oxygen required to make it do something resembling an explosion is difficult to hide.

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893914)

I wonder how difficult it would be... It is quite common for people with serious respiratory disorders(emphysema and similarly ghastly ones) to have to use supplemental oxygen more or less continually once their lung function drops too far to keep their blood oxygenated with an ordinary atmospheric gas mixture. Given this comparatively common and plausible use(especially common among fairly frail old people that even hardened TSA agents might refrain from gate-raping too violently), you could likely carry a tank without attracting excessive suspicion.

What I don't know is whether you could sneak the somewhat tougher requirements of storing liquid oxygen into a package that appears to be tackling the easier task of storing pressurized gaseous oxygen...

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894110)

If you're carrying a tank....

Do I need to spell it out?

Ok, Mr. DHS agent, I'll keep it general. Empty tank. Cut off top. Remove concrete from tank. Pack tank with tons of C4, ball bearings, etc, etc. Build a nice mechanical trigger that works off air pressure. Weld tank. Sand/paint. Fill with small amount of O2. Don mask, attend airport, board airplane, leave valve full open and wait for Allah.

Heck, if you're worried about scanners, use propane instead of C4. Still a big bada-boom.

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37896030)

If you're carrying a tank....

Do I need to spell it out?

Ok, Mr. DHS agent, I'll keep it general. Empty tank. Cut off top. Remove concrete from tank. Pack tank with tons of C4, ball bearings, etc, etc.

Tons? That's a mighty big tank. ;)

Heck, if you're worried about scanners, use propane instead of C4. Still a big bada-boom.

Nope. Propane burns well, but it's quite hard to get it to explode. Of course propane tanks, like any pressure vessel, can easily explode if overpressurized (typically by heating the contents), but that requires an external heat source (there's no oxidizer in the tank to support combustion, so the flame will stay outside the tank, and you'll need some sort of burner assembly to direct it onto the tank, rather than flowing outward.

Improvised explosives -- not really hard, but not quite as easy as most people think (largely thanks to Hollywood, where if you shoot a concrete wall with a soft lead bullet, you get an explosion and fireball).

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (1)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37897202)

Except for how personal oxygen tanks have long been banned on commercial aircraft. And before you ask, not by the TSA, but by the FAA, and predating 9/11.

Some airlines will provide a tank for you, which are certified to be airworthy, and apparently a couple brands of oxygen concentrators are now certified airworthy (But won't provide anything near the kind of kick you'd need).

I tried to look for a cite for you, but after 45 seconds of googleing I hadn't found anything authoritative and my interest waned, so you'll have to look yourself if you don't believe me.

Re:Just how common are those paper based explosive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37961616)

Am I the only one to catch the fact that the sensor is what is paper based, not the explosive.

Almost any circuit can be printed (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893586)

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.

Re:Almost any circuit can be printed (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Almost any circuit can be printed (0)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894040)

"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.

Re:Almost any circuit can be printed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37896668)

Karma loan accepted :)

Re:Almost any circuit can be printed (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894026)

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.

Semiconductors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894314)

Along with the metal connections, you need semiconductors to make the diodes to do anything interesting with your circuits.

It's not about the circuit (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#37897784)

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.

Oh joy! Detectors everywhere! (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893602)

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?

Re:Oh joy! Detectors everywhere! (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893740)

I don't think hiding explosives is something that falls under privacy rights.

Re:Oh joy! Detectors everywhere! (2)

ForgedArtificer (1777038) | more than 2 years ago | (#37895198)

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 proven guilty, remember?

Re:Oh joy! Detectors everywhere! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893788)

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.

Re:Oh joy! Detectors everywhere! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894626)

"I'd certainly hope that loading a few shells won't get me flagged by one of these."

Try it out. Use half a pound dissolved in water and spray the entries to the airport so that everybody has it on their feet and wait.

Re:Oh joy! Detectors everywhere! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37896288)

Or just use MiracleGrow. It contains enough phosphorus and ammonia to make them think everyone's shoes are bombs. In fact, I think I'll try this on Wednesday, in honor of the General Strike.

Re:Oh joy! Detectors everywhere! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893828)

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:

Quick (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893696)

lets ban the export of Laser printers, we can't let this technology get into the hands of the Chinese ..... Oh Wait!

Guess what'll happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893838)

Well, we could un-criminalise a lot of substances because it's now a lot easier to detect things that go asplode and prevent them from being where you really don't want to have them.

ORRR... we could ban ammonia entirely because it upsets the sensors. No points for guessing which'll actually happen.

How does it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893872)

Does it involve rolling the paper into a stick and lighting it on fire?

Inkjet printable explosives detector (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894204)

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.

Low cost!?! (2)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894706)

Low cost!?! Have these guys ever tried buying a new ink cartridge for an ink jet printer?

Re:Low cost!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899346)

Low cost!?! Have these guys ever tried buying a new ink cartridge for an ink jet printer?

Made me laugh when I needed it :)

Thanks!

False positives (1)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37895310)

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.

Paper Based (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37895498)

I thought it said "Paper-Based Executives". I figured my manager would save a fortune on travel costs if he could fax himself, but would we need an origami specialist to reassemble him on location?

Print it on a a plane ticket. (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 2 years ago | (#37896604)

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.

Danger ahead or food for thought? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37897460)

Someone will try to refill those inkjet cartrdiges in their kitchen to save money!
www.mydealingwithanxiety.com

Very Short Shelf Life (1)

laughingskeptic (1004414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37898208)

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.

dog? (1)

bingoUV (1066850) | more than 2 years ago | (#37898466)

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

A way to get around it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37899576)

If you hide the explosives inside the inkjet printer cartridges for the explosives detector printer, the detectors will go off as soon as they're printed and people will just think they're defective. ;)

Cheap for now (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37905060)

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)

Oops. (1)

Animakitty (603425) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922340)

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