Polydiphenoxyphosphazene! Wow – what a name.

This substance has been combined with erbium nitrate hyrdate to produce a remarkably important substance.

The substance polydiphenoxyphosphazene is a nano fibre. When the erbium compound is heated it emits infra red light. As the nano fibres have a small volume compared to their surface area the body temperature can cause them to emit the infra red radiation.

And the use? Police carrying out raids at night can make clothes made of the fibres. Police marksmen can then ‘see’ the fibres (or their IR emission) through night sights – ensuring that they do not shoot the wrong person.

Article adapted from an article entitled ‘Don’t Shoot’ on page 25 of New Scientist magazine published 10th April 2004.