(Updated) SmartWater: The Future of Crime Fighting

Horace Mann’s Premier Science and Technology Magazine
Crime has undoubtedly evolved as time progressed, but methods of crime fighting have evolved as well right alongside. An innovative example of modern day crime fighting is SmartWater, a chemical marker that glows under ultraviolet light. Invisible under normal light, SmartWater can mark thieves without them knowing.
SmartWater operates under the principles of florescence. When a photon, a particle of light, strikes an electron within an atom of a substance, the energy from the photon is absorbed, and the electron enters an excited state, which results in the electron’s entering a higher energy orbital. These orbitals exist in levels around the nucleus of the atom; the higher the orbital, the farther it is from the nucleus. Eventually, the electron returns back to its original energy orbital, causing the atom to release energy. This energy then takes the form of a new photon. However, this photon differs from the original photon since it travels at a longer wavelength. On an electromagnetic spectrum, ultraviolet light has shorter wavelengths than visible light. This process causes SmartWater to fluoresce under ultraviolet light. The atoms in SmartWater take in a small amount of the photons of the UV light and release the energy as new photons traveling on a longer wavelength, visible light, causing SmartWater to fluoresce and glow when under ultraviolet light, so that we can see the glow. This unique ability of SmartWater can be used in a variety of ways as a result, most notably in cracking down on crime.

Electromagnetic SpectrumElectromagnetic Spectrum SmartWater contains a chemical code similar to that of DNA, so every SmartWater sample is unique. It involves microscopic security tags suspended in a solution (a vinyl acetate copolymer suspended in an isopropyl alcohol base), and 30 rare earth elements to add an extra layer of identification. The product for commercial, industrial, and residential property crime deterrence can be purchased from the company SmartWater CSI, which will provide you a unique chemical code of SmartWater. Thus, a person can order batches of SmartWater with the unique chemical code assigned exclusively to them or to their business. Each forensic code is entered into a secure database, which only police have access to. To use SmartWater, one simply applies small amounts into the corners of the item the intended to be protected. The user knows where the SmartWater has been applied, effectively “marking” them.

Because SmartWater can stay on a surface for periods of up to 5 years and is practically fire and water proof, it is extremely effective in linking criminals to crimes. If the suspect has been sprayed with what is called “Index Spray”, the chemical code is present on their very skin and cannot be removed easily, and thus it serves as a durable piece of evidence in linking a criminal to a crime. SmartWater is an extremely effective crime deterrent and gives clients stickers that identify them as SmartWater users. This warns criminals that their chances of arrest have greatly increased and their ability to sell stolen goods is greatly decreased. In a University of Leicester study, SmartWater was identified to be a more effective deterrent than security guards, burglar alarms and ink dye-tags.
SmartWater has been used to combat a variety of problems, including metal theft in the UK. Metal theft is essentially the stealing of items for the value of the metals they are composed of, a real problem in the UK. Because the UK is an industrial country, the value of scrap metal has skyrocketed, and metal theft has increased as a result. Metal theft can occur in war memorials, schools, churches, and more. One step that has been taken to prevent metal theft in the UK is coating metal wires and cables with SmartWater, and this practice has resulted in the arrest of many metal thieves. War memorials and metal objects belonging to churches and certain plaques have been coated in SmartWater as well in order to prevent their theft. SmartWater has also been used in sprinkler systems, several of which have been put in place in Newcastle in United Kingdom. Custody offices have been fitted with UV light arches, through which suspects will pass, and as a result burglary rates have dropped dramatically. SmartWater can also be installed in cars and automobiles, and is released if the automobile is opened illegally.
SmartWater is a glimpse into the future of crime-fighting. Though SmartWater has been used in the UK, its country of origin, primarily, it is steadily expanding into other countries, such as the US. Thus, SmartWater will likely soon become a leading agent in the prevention of future theft.
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