Loughborough University has unveiled a new device that can identify tiny amounts of explosive particles invisible to the naked eye.
ExDtect – the brainchild of Loughborough professor John Tyler uses sophisticated laser technology and can remotely scan vehicles, crowded areas, and cargo not just to detect traces of explosives but accurately pinpointing its location.
The device works by using ultraviolet lasers to illuminate a target. The laser specifically excites any explosive materials present, causing them to glow. Detectors specifically designed to view this part of the spectrum can pick this up.
The key its 15-year development has been identifying a type of laser system that is safe to use around people. . “Because we are operating around human eyes, for example, we needed relatively low power densities, and when we talked to our chemists it became clear that meant we had to look at laser-induced fluorescence,” says Professor Tyrer, from the University’s Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering who created the device alongside the Loughborough team.
“Sadly it seems inevitable now that we are going to see more and more terrorist attacks like those we recently witnessed in Brussels,” says Tyrer. “And had our device been in operation at Brussels Airport I firmly believe those terrorists would have been identified and prevented from entering the terminal.
“Never has there been a more urgent need to have technology in place that can accurately and remotely identify cargo, vehicles and people that have been in contact with explosives… this really is British engineering and inventiveness at its best – tackling a global threat to public safety.”