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    Cracking The Case on Nerve Agent Detection

    Nerve Agent Graphic 2

    Courtesy Photo | The auto-inductive cascade for the detection of nerve agent surrogate, DFP, through...... read more read more

    FORT BELVOIR, VA, UNITED STATES

    06.22.2017

    Courtesy Story

    Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Chemical and Biological Technologies Department

    Modern crime fighters solve cases by using fluorescence methods to visualize fingerprints or trace amounts of blood that are undetectable to the naked eye. New research funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department focuses on adapting similar methods to improve early detection of deadly nerve agents, giving warfighters and civilians increased response time during an attack.

    Current chemical detectors are either complex instruments requiring technical user training, or rely on special low-cost detection paper which may give false positives depending on environmental factors. Fluorescence-based detection may be instrumental in closing these gaps by providing an accurate, easy-to-use tool to help warfighters and first responders quickly identify threats.

    Nerve agents work by disrupting the mechanisms that allow nerves to communicate with organs. A common family of these agents, organophosphorous compounds, include two main classes: fluoride-containing “G series” and sulfur-containing “V series”. Professor Eric Anslyn, Ph.D., at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), is developing new detection techniques by targeting the fluoride ions released by G-series agents, such as sarin, soman and cyclosarin.

    Managed by DTRA CB’s Anthony Esposito, Ph.D., UT Austin researchers introduced a novel approach to visually detect fluoride ions through three steps: generation, amplification and sensing. This approach enhances detection capabilities for the Department of Defense by successfully merging multiple, complex reactions for accurately detecting trace amounts of harmful toxins.

    The team is using diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP), a nerve agent surrogate, to mimic response before testing the methodology against toxins. The new approach is ultrasensitive due to an auto-inductive cascade, a process that generates six fluoride ions for each ion released in the initial reaction between the DFP and benzaldoxime. This process makes detection of trace amounts of toxins possible.

    Utilizing both colorimetric and fluorescent detection, fluoride ions are tracked throughout the cascade. Both detection techniques demonstrate promise for detecting G series nerve agents and may provide warfighters with quicker and more accurate detection methods.

    Anslyn’s team is continuing to explore novel methodologies for visual identification of nerve agents. Currently, the team is studying a new auto-inductive cascade that uses benzoyl fluoride rather than benzaldoxime in an effort to increase the reaction speed of nerve agents. These efforts will allow warfighters to quickly identify threats and shorten response time, improving both warfighter and public safety.

    For more information, read the Modern crime fighters solve cases by using fluorescence methods to visualize fingerprints or trace amounts of blood that are undetectable to the naked eye. New research funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department focuses on adapting similar methods to improve early detection of deadly nerve agents, giving warfighters and civilians increased response time during an attack.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.22.2017
    Date Posted: 06.22.2017 10:35
    Story ID: 238772
    Location: FORT BELVOIR, VA, US 

    Web Views: 370
    Downloads: 2

    PUBLIC DOMAIN