Laser prototype improves bomb detection
- 10 December, 2012 16:32
Scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have developed a prototype laser device capable of detecting tiny traces of explosive vapour, an invention that has the potential to put bomb sniffer dogs out of a job.
The prototype – a pulsed, quantum laser-based, cavity ring-down spectrometer – is being tested at the US government’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
The laser machine is “about 100 times more sensitive and 100 times faster than any other detection device,” Associate Professor Charles Harb from UNSW’s School of Engineering and Information Technology said in an interview with UNSW’s quarterly publication Uniken.
The laser device could sniff bags travelling along a conveyor belt and instantly alert security personnel if it detects explosive vapours from a passing object, such as a suitcase.
The device could replace intrusive airport security checks such as pat downs and full body scans and bomb sniffer dogs, UNSW said.
According to Harb, the device uses mirrors to repeatedly pass through the vapour in a “figure-of-eight” path, which provides a more accurate measurement.
“We can measure the components of TNT very clearly, down to the tiny sub-millitorr pressures, in other words in the parts per billion range in atmosphere,” Harb said in his interview with Uniken.
Harb expected that it would take two years of testing and calibrating the prototype – to detect “unique signatures of other substances and different types of explosives” – before it’s ready for commercial use.
Harb and his team at UNSW began working on the device in 2005 when they were asked by the Australian Federal Police to create a machine that could assist with forensic investigations and detect explosive residue at crime scenes.
Harb said police wanted a machine that could work around-the-clock to “identify the actual type of explosive and check every suitcase passing on a conveyor belt”, which is something that sniffer dogs can’t do.
Harb and his team, Scientia Professor Ian Peterson and research associates Dr Toby Boyson and Dr Abhijit Kallapur, developed the device after receiving a grant from the Australian Research Council in 2009.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.
CIOs need to get their house in order, CFO panel says
Is Data Complexity Blinding Your IT Decision-Making?
Why IT projects really fail
CIOs say cost, complexity impede true mobile gains in enterprise
The enlightened CIO’s guide to running projects
Deliver Enterprise Mobility with Security and Performance
Mobility and the consumerisation of IT pose key challenges for IT around scalability, security and application visibility. In this whitepaper, we look at complete, integrated and scalable solutions that deliver apps and data to any device with full security and a high-performance user experience. Learn more!
Managing Web Security in an Increasingly Challenging Threat Landscape
Cybercriminals have increasingly turned their attention to the web, which has become by far the predominant area of attack. Those who would do harm to our computer systems for profit or malice always manage to focus their efforts on our most vulnerable weak spots. Today, that is the web, for a wide number of reasons. Download to find out why and what you can do to protect yourself.
Siemens Redefines Efficiency
Siemens is leading the migration to a smarter energy grid by enabling utilities to collect and analyse data from the new generation of smart meters, providing both utilities and their customers usable information to make smarter energy decisions. In this case study, we look at how they could provision full stack environments quickly and flexibly leveraging a shared hardware model, and one the delivered performance and scale to meet large testing requirements.