WASHINGTON: Imagine: tiny sensors built into military combat gear to detect chemical or biological weapons; unseen sensors peppered throughout a submarine to detect radiation leaks or chemical contamination of the crew’s precious air; a cellphone — think Star Trek tricorder, flip it open, open the app and bingo! — able to detect the gas of explosives down to parts per trillion that helps to speed passengers through crowded airports. Or you could embed sensors in your refrigerator and it could tell you exactly what was spoiling and whether it was still safe to eat.
All those technologies may be possible thanks to a breakthrough at the Navy’s premier research lab who may be on the verge of unleashing the long-sought promise of nanotechnology. Researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) — Christopher Field, Junghoon Yeom, Daniel Ratchford, Hyun Jin In and Pehr E Pehrsson — have figured out how to manufacture nanowires reliably using existing technology.