A new method shows promise for field identification of organic chemical contamination. Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, applied a lanthanide metal-organic framework (MOF) to a slide and, after dipping it in a sample, excited it with light at particular frequencies, and were to able to identify the emission signature of at least 18 different solvents. The solvents bind within the lattice of the MOF and quench the light given off in characteristic ways. The test slides were reusable after heating to drive off the solvents. Along with such common solvents as methanol, ethanol, and toluene, the method is able to identify the presence of water in deuterium oxide, and may also be used to detect heavy metal and halogens.
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