Evaluation of the Odor Compounds Sensed by Explosive-Detecting Canines
The remote detection of explosives generally relies upon detecting volatile compounds that are emitted by the explosive itself. Detection of these compounds can be achieved through instrumentation or by specially trained canines. While instruments are designed and built to respond to particular chemical species, it is not always clear what chemical species generates a canine alert. In addition, canines have the ability to "generalize" and correctly alert to explosive formulations that are similar, but not identical, to those with which they have trained. This would tend to indicate that there are common chemical odors for some types of explosives. Dr. Goodpaster's research examines the effect of odor availability and differing odor compounds on canine detection. As the chemical composition of the headspace above explosive formulations is more completely understood, it should be possible to test the extent to which canine alerts correlate to the compounds of interest.