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Study finds new technique to detect homemade bombs, used in robbing ATMs, other crimes

Updated: May 10, 2019 14:44 IST

Washington D.C [U.S.A], May 10 : Researchers have developed a new technique that detects homemade explosives, which will eventually enable forensic experts to trace where the device came from or who it belongs to.
According to a new study, researchers at King's College London, in collaboration with Northumbria University have used ion chromatograph - high-resolution mass spectrometry to develop a method that can detect a very large number of components of homemade explosives down to very low trace amounts.
Homemade explosives have been used in a number of different crimes, including the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2011 Oslo attacks.
They are also used to rob ATMs. Such bombs are traditionally been very challenging to detect and trace in samples submitted for forensic analysis.
Dr Matteo Gallidabino. one of the lead authors of the research, published in 'Analytica Chimica Acta' journal said, "The method we developed is less time consuming and represents a viable solution for challenging explosives like these. By combining this approach with advanced data analytics, added intelligence can be retrieved from any evidence recovered. This has the potential to significantly impact criminal investigations and further enhance the role of forensics in the administration of justice."
The team of researchers successfully went on to use the new approach to interpret the time since explosives materials were handled by the original maker, analysing sweat. They were also able to analyse gunshot residue to trace the type of ammunition used.
Dr Leon Barron from one of the universities in London said, "The technique is able to tell us so much more than just the explosives content. It detects thousands of different compounds simultaneously, which means there is an element of the in-built future-proofing capability to detect new types of explosives if needed or provide critical information about where a device came from or who it belongs to."