HOW DOES THE DETECTOR WORK? The sensor detects hydrogen peroxide, which is often used in homemade explosives. It can detect trace amounts indirectly by monitoring the electrical conductivity of a thin metal film. The film responds to certain chemicals (oxidizers) by showing an increase in electrical current, and to others (reducers) by reducing the amount of electrical current. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent, but cobalt films will respond to it by decreasing current, and copper or nickel films will show increased current. It is this unusual reaction that made the sensor possible. The tiny sensor capitalizes on this property to detect very small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.
The Materials Research Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., the American Physical Society, and the American Industrial Hygiene Association contributed to this report. This report has also been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.