Revolution for airport security
13 November 2006
An interface which can detect explosives and drugs and could revolutionise airport security has been developed by Swedish scientists.
The news is reported in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip.
Dr Thomas Frisk and colleagues at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, have made the microfluidic device, which can detect nanogram levels (0.000000001g) of explosives, cocaine and heroin.
Dr Frisk said: "There is a need for fast, portable and sensitive machines that could be used by customs officers to detect narcotics and explosives."
The detector works by collecting airborne materials and dissolving them into a phosphate buffer solution. The solution then flows across a silicon surface between tiny columns - much like water flowing between the bristles of a toothbrush. The solution which flows out of the interface is then analysed for the target molecules.
Due to the tensions and pressures within the device it can be used in any orientation.
Dr Frisk said: "By maximising the adsorption properties of the interface, the device size and weight could be reduced, and detection times halved compared to previous detection systems."
Douglas Wiebel, assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said: "This work is particularly timely given the global interest in developing rapid, sensitive and portable methods for detecting explosives and toxins in air.
"The recent increase in security levels in public places and in airports is an excellent motivation for the development of this technology."
with thanks to David Parker for the original article
T Frisk, D Rönnholm, W van der Wijngaart and G Stemme, Lab Chip 2006
An interface that can be used to detect explosives has been developed by Swedish scientists.
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