Happy 4th! SilcoTek's role in explosives detection.

July 02 2015 Process Analytical


Have a safe and happy 4th of July from SilcoTek!

After the cookout, most of us will be venturing out to gaze at the local fireworks display.  When I'm watching the fireworks, I'm reminded of the role SilcoTek® plays in keeping us all safe from explosives.  OK my first thought is will they shoot off my favorite smiley face rocket and how do they make that funny crackle sound... but that's for another story.

Helping companies improve trace explosive detection can be traced back to development of our first coating.  In 1987, a client contacted us to pacify the metal surfaces of their new explosives detector.  At that time, we were a small team within Restek Corp. tasked with developing coatings for the analytical industry.  Our group developed a technology to coat intricate metal parts with an inert layer of silicon, preventing low ppt levels of explosives from adsorbing to the stainless steel sample transfer surface; enabling our customer to develop a new and innovative explosive detection instrument.

Driven by this success, we applied our technology to capillary gas chromatography columns, tubing, fittings and other sample transfer components.  The end product from this work was Silcosteel® (now SilcoNert® 1000) our first inert coating.

Smiths_3-explosives-detection_image Today our inert coatings are cited in 10 patents related to explosives detection and are used in over 15 distinct explosive detection technologies worldwide.

Why have SilcoTek® coatings become a major contributor to trace explosive detection technology?

Explosive molecules are reactive and heat sensitive, they will "stick" to stainless steel or glass surfaces.  Without our surface technology, nearly all of the trace explosive material would be catalytically lost when interacting with stainless steel or glass surfaces in the sample pathway. 


SilcoTek surfaces are highly inert and prevent common explosives like nitrates, nitro aeromatics and hydrogen peroxide, from reacting with sample pathways.  Assuring the entire sample remains intact while flowing through the sample pathway.  This makes explosive testing in airports and other facilities a repeatable and accurate process; helping to make air travel, ports, and installations safer. 

Learn more about how our inert surfaces improve response.

Want more information? Read industry whitepapers

Enjoy the 4th!

PS: If you find yourself in our neighborhood (Central Pennsylvania) this 4th, I highly recommend checking out the Central PA 4thFest fireworks.  Join the celebration for the entire day!