Enlisting carbon nanotubes to unmask nerve agents

03/29/04

Yuehe Lin, a PNNL chief scientist, reports the successful lab test of a disposable nerve-agent sensor he fashioned from carbon nanotubes

ANAHEIM, Calif.--Besides posing a serious environmental hazard, organophosphate-based pesticides, or OP compounds, are raw material for chemical-warfare nerve agents. Crews responding to a terrorist's nerve-agent attack have had no way to identify the compound they're dealing with until it's too late.

Yuehe Lin, a chief scientist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., reported Sunday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society the successful lab test of a disposable OP sensor he fashioned from carbon nanotubes chemically fused to enzymes borrowed from the nervous system-the same enzymes that act as catalysts in neurotransmitters. The 500-nanometer-thick tubes and their bound enzymes finely pepper a 2-by-4 millimeter sensor surface. In the presence of OP, enzyme activity is dampened. The nanotubes, acting as electrodes, sense the inhibition as a muted signal and pass that information to an off-the-shelf electrochemical detector that houses the sensor. The detector is hooked up to a notebook computer for an instant reading of even traces of OP, to as few as 5 parts per billion.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

The time when you need to do something is when no one else is willing to do it, when people are saying it can't be done.
-- Mary Frances Berry