NMR offers international security

An invaluable new tool developed by German and US scientists could provide homeland security experts with a way to identify the chemical constituents of suspicious substances. The device, based on high-resolution NMR spectroscopy, is the first of its kind to be made portable and could become one of the principal tools for testing substances that might pose a security threat, such as suspect biological and chemical weapons and explosive materials. Researchers at the Institute for Technical Chemistry and Macromolecular Chemistry in Aachen, Germany, and Berkeley Lab in California developed the system so that they could obtain high resolution and so detailed analytical results without having to rely on the far from portable superconducting magnet NMR machines used in modern laboratories.