Super-hydrophobic "smart" sand for buried explosive detection

Xiangcheng Sun, Yixin Liu, Srilaya Mopidevi, Yongtao Meng, Fei Huang, Joseph Parisi, Mu Ping Nieh, Chris Cornelius, Steven L. Suib, Yu Lei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Explosive-sensitive fluorescent sand ("smart" sand) was prepared through the simple coating of polystyrene/pyrene/TBAHP composite on normal sand. The as-prepared "smart" sand was characterized using SEM, EDS, XRD, FT-IR, Raman, and UV-Vis. Further analysis of contact angle and fluorescence emission spectra confirm that the explosive-sensitive fluorescent composite film coats on the surface of the sand, endowing "smart" sand both strong fluorescence and super-hydrophobicity, which provides an excellent sensing material for buried nitroaromatic explosive sensing, presumably due to its strong affinity with nitroaromatic explosive vapor. The detection of buried explosives in soil was achieved and validated through quenched spots on a thin layer of "smart" sand paved on the top of soil. The quenched area and decreased intensity vary with the amounts and depths of 2,4-DNT buried in soils. Such detection can be performed using a handheld UV lamp and observed by naked eyes, thus providing great potential and advantage for large-scale landmine detection and mapping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalSensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
StatePublished - May 2014


  • "Smart" sand
  • Buried explosive
  • Fluorescence
  • Polystrene
  • Pyrene
  • Quenching
  • Sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry

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  • Cite this

    Sun, X., Liu, Y., Mopidevi, S., Meng, Y., Huang, F., Parisi, J., Nieh, M. P., Cornelius, C., Suib, S. L., & Lei, Y. (2014). Super-hydrophobic "smart" sand for buried explosive detection. Sensors and Actuators, B: Chemical, 195, 52-57.