William Dichtel and Deepti Gopalakrishnan
Detecting bombs in places such as airports could be getting easier, thanks to a new fluorescing polymer. While you might expect the material to glow in the presence of explosives, they actually cause it to stop glowing.
The polymer was developed at Cornell University by chemist William Dichtel and his graduate student, Deepti Gopalakrishnan.
Ordinarily, its random cross-linked structure lets it absorb light, transport the energy through itself, and ultimately release that energy back out as light. Should the energy meet up with even a single molecule of explosive as it moves through the polymer, however, it will be released as heat instead of light. This causes the polymer to promptly cease fluorescing.
It is now hoped that the polymer could be incorporated into low-cost hand-held sensors, which could be used with or instead of bomb-sniffing dogs.
This is definitely better than using X-Rays to peer beneath my underwear.