New SMART approaches to fast, high sensitivity, high selectivity, low false indication, self communicating, distributed sensor networks for detection of chemical, biological and radiation threats are being developed at PNNL. These new sensors have their roots in clever combinations of high affinity ligands, self assembled monolayers, shape-specific receptor surfaces, mesoporous superstructures, rapidly fabricated single-chain antibodies, stabilized enzyme reactors and manipulated micro-beads for optical, mass, and direct electronic transduction. Assemblies of these SMART materials and structures are able to efficiently reject the bulk of highly cluttered physical environmental backgrounds, collect the product of interest with extremely high selectivity, concentrate it and present it for efficient and sensitive detection. The general construction methodology for these structures and examples of new sensor systems for detecting chemical, biological and nuclear materials of concern in the Homeland Security context is presented.
A major challenge confronting emergency response, border control, and other security-related functions is the accurate, rapid, and safe identification of potentially hazardous chemicals outside a laboratory environment. Raman spectroscopy is a rapid, non-intrusive technique that can be used to confidently identify many classes of hazardous and potentially explosive compounds based on molecular vibration information. Advances in instrumentation now allow reliable field - portable measurements to be made. Before the Raman technique can be effectively applied and be accepted within the scientific community, realistic studies must be performed to develop methods, define limitations, and rigorously evaluate its effectiveness. Examples of a variety of chemicals (including neat and diluted chemical warfare [CW] agents, a CW agent precursor, a biological warfare (BW)-related compound, an illicit drug, and explosives) identified using Raman spectroscopy in various types of containers and on surfaces are given, as well as results from a blind field test of 29 unknown samples which included CW agent precursors and/or degradation products, solvents associated with CW agent production, pesticides, explosives, and BW toxins (mostly mycotoxins). Additionally, results of experimental studies to evaluate the analysis of flammable organic solvents, propellants, military explosives, mixtures containing military explosives, shock-sensitive explosives, and gun powders are described with safety guidelines. Spectral masks for screening unknown samples for explosives and nerve agents are given.
Detection of illicit cocaine hydrochloride shipments can be improved if there is a greater understanding of the identity and quantity of volatile compounds present. This study provides preliminary data concerning the volatile organic compounds detected in a limited set of cocaine hydrochloride samples. In all cases, cocaine was one of the major volatile compounds detected. Other tropeines were detected in almost all samples. Low concentrations of compounds which may be residues of processing solvents were observed in some samples. The equilibrium emissivity of cocaine from cocaine hydrochloride was investigated and a value of 83 parts-per-trillion was determined.