Question: Where would you use the explosive detectors that you make?

  1. Great question, I remember talking to you about this in todays chat. You asked a lot of good questions.

    The explosive detetors that I make are actually special chemical reactions. So when you think ‘detector’ you might actually think of a machine that tells you if explosives are close by. What I do is put my chemical reaction into a machine that can be used by all sorts of people.

    When I’m looking for explosives, most commonly I can use them in places like airports to check passengers. I can also tell what type of explosive chemical and sometimes who made it, so I will also use the detector at a crime scene to help police. For similar reasons, soldiers need to use these detectors to stay safe.

    Have you ever seen a detector being used? Maybe at an airport?



  1. I’m going to gatecrash your question to tell you about the awesome DOGS the Australian Army uses as explosive detectors in their work in war zones. The dogs are mostly found in shelters and pounds around Australia, then they go to the Army Royal Australian Engineer headquarters near Sydney and get trained in under 20 weeks with their handlers to detect explosives and then they get deployed to go and work all around the world – particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan at the moment. You can find out more about this awesome dogs here:


  2. Thanks @Mia, I was hoping you’d jump in. Explosive detection dogs are a really important detection tool (probably not the best word for them). I’d like to say my chemistry could involve the dogs, but thats just outside what I’m doing.

    I have another chemist colleage who has worked with them overseas on operations, conducted trials with them on learning new explosive types, and is about to start working with them and police dogs on trying to learn how their noses work and the chemistry behind it. Canberra’s a great location for this research at the moment


  3. Absolutely! I’ve also met with the NSW Fire and Rescue team who have Australia’s only accelerant detector dogs who visit sites of fire and signal where forensics teams should take samples to detect accelerants that might have been used to start the fire. Dogs’ sense of smell is completely amazing in a way that’s hard for us to understand. I find it amazing they can smell a fingerprint on a piece of glass. That they can smell it six weeks after it was put there is INSANELY AMAZING! 🙂