Nanotechnology Being Used To Fight Crime - New Technology

Several science fiction like technologies are about to become crime fighting realities. They range from printing that glows a different colour under UV light to plastics that recognise drugs. The common thread to these products is that they rely on nanotechnologies.

In order to combat counterfeiting of official and business documentation, Nanosolutions of Germany have developed Ren-X (Rare Earth Element Nanoparticle), a solution that includes nanosized particles of rare earth materials like lanthanum and yttrium. This can be placed in inkjet printer ink for printing of official documents. The additives are invisible to the naked eye but when exposed to UV light, the signature of the particles is visible proving is the document is real or a forgery. The technology can also be used to apply corrosion inhibiting chemicals to surfaces. 

Cranfield University at Silsoe in Britain have developed plastic material that can recognise different molecules. By 'teaching' the plastic to recognise various narcotics the need for expensive and time-consuming drug testing labs is eliminated. A device the size of a common pen could be dipped in a simple saliva sample at the crime scene and immediate confirmation be given as to the presence of drugs. The police see this technology becoming commonly adopted like alcohol breath testing equipment and DNA sampling. It could also be used for workplace drug testing.

Posted 23rd October 2003

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