Targeting chemical and biological warfare agents at the molecular level

Omowunmi A. Sadik, Walker H. Land, Joseph Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


After the September 11 tragedies of 2001, scientists and law-enforcement agencies have shown increasing concern that terrorist organizations and their "rogue" foreign government-backers may resort to the use of chemical and/or biological agents against U.S. military or civilian targets. In addition to the right mix of policies, including security measures, intelligence gathering and training for medical personnel on how to recognize symptoms of biochemical warfare agents, the major success in combating terrorism lies in how best to respond to an attack using reliable analytical sensors. The public and regulatory agencies expect sensing methodologies and devices for homeland security to be very reliable. Quality data can only be generated by using analytical sensors that are validated and proven to be under strict design criteria, development and manufacturing controls. Electrochemical devices are ideally suited for obtaining the desired analytical information in a faster, simpler, and cheaper manner compared to traditional (lab-based) assays and hence for meeting the requirements of decentralized biodefense applications. This articler presents a review of the major trends in monitoring technologies for chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents. It focuses on research and development of sensors (particularly electrochemical ones), discusses how advances in molecular recognition might be used to design new multimission networked sensors (MULNETS) for homeland security. Decision flow-charts for choosing particular analytical techniques for CBW agents are presented. Finally, the paths to designing sensors to meet the needs of today's measurement criteria are analyzed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1149-1159
Number of pages11
Issue number14
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Electrochemistry


  • Biodefence applications
  • Chemical and biological warfare agents
  • Electrochemical devices


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