New chemical agent detector uses sulfur to detect agents

Scientist Vyom Parashar of the Nanotechnology Application Center of Allahabad University in India has developed a new technology that uses nanomagnets to detect the presence of sulfur, which could be used to identify bombs and chemical warfare agents.

The study was recently published in Analytical Methods in Cambridge, U.K., and the work was featured on the front page of the publication, the Times of India reports.

“Our approach is directed towards the simultaneous determination and removal of sulfur molecules in which a sulfur-containing sample is encountered with nanomagnets made of gadolinium,” Parashar said, according to the Times of India. “It produces visible red color, which means that the given sample contains sulfur. Then the colored portion is detectable with the naked eye and simultaneously can be removed from the solution by applying an external magnetic field by using a simple permanent magnet.”

While the technology can detect chemical warfare agents and bomb components on a small scale and contamination of gasoline on a larger scale, it also may have the ability to detect the sulfur derivatives for certain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and liver damage.

“The vast application of this detection technique includes clinical diagnostics, such as early monitoring of amino acids, proteins and polypeptides containing sulfur derivatives in various biological samples, e.g., human blood serum, urine, tissues and tumors of patients,” professor A.C. Pandey, co-author of the study, said, the Times of India reports.