A Hybrid Nanosensor for TNT Vapor Detection

Real-time detection of trace chemicals, such as explosives, in a complex environment containing various interferents has been a difficult challenge. We describe here a hybrid nanosensor based on the electrochemical reduction of TNT and the interaction of the reduction products with conducting polymer nanojunctions in an ionic liquid. The sensor simultaneously measures the electrochemical current from the reduction of TNT and the conductance change of the polymer nanojunction caused from the reduction product. The hybrid detection mechanism, together with the unique selective preconcentration capability of the ionic liquid, provides a selective, fast, and sensitive detection of TNT. The sensor, in its current form, is capable of detecting parts-per-trillion level TNT in the presence of various interferents within a few minutes.