israeli scientists develop new explosives detector

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    Israeli scientists develop new explosives detector

    By Amnon Barzilai, Haaretz Correspondent

    Researchers at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology have developed a pen-sized device to detect triacetone triperoxide (TATP), an explosive commonly used by terrorists.

    The device resembles a pen with three buttons on it. It dispenses chemical solutions which change color upon contact with the material.

    Device inventor Ehud Keinan explains that TATP, unlike conventional explosives, does not give off heat as it is detonated. Keinan and his research partners discovered this is the reason conventional explosives-detection devices cannot recognize it.

    "To our surprise, we found that the detonation of this material was caused in a way that all its molecules in a solid state are changed within a fraction of a second to four molecules in a gaseous state," Prof. Keinan notes.

    The results of this research were published on Thursday in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The co-authors include Yehuda Zeiri of the Dimona Nuclear Research Center and Roni Kosloff and Yossi Almog of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, along with their research students. Keinan is the dean of the faculty of chemistry at Haifa's Technion.

    Keinan first revealed the findings at a national conference at the Center for Security Science and Technology at the Technion. He was presented then with the first prize in a competition to develop technology for defense against terror.

    TATP and similar explosives from the peroxide family are widely used by various terrorist organizations across the world, since they are relatively easy to prepare and difficult to detect. The substances are very unstable and dangerous to their manufacturers, resulting in many "work accidents" in pirate labs established by Palestinian militants.

    In recent years, a large number of suicide bombings have been carried out using TATP, among them those at the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv, on the pedestrian mall in Jerusalem and attacks on many buses.
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