A new class of fluorescent chemical sensor that can organophosphate neurotoxins up to five orders of magnitude faster than earlier reagents has been developed by Julius Rebek, Jr. and Trevor Dale at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. When inhaled, toxic organophosphates, which include terrorist chemical weapons such as Soman, Tabun, and Sarin, can lead to death within minutes. Rebek's novel reagents can not only signal the alarm much faster than other sensitive molecules, but they also render the organophosphates harmless in the process. An aromatic ring system equipped with an oxime group undergoes rapid ring closure in the presence of the organophosphate, switching out its hydroxy group and detoxifying the nerve agent.
Glowing detox closure