A team of European scientists has created a hand-held chemical sensor capable of instantaneous detection from a distance of 30m. Harnessing new photonics technology, the mid-IR sensor uses spectroscopic sensors that read the unique frequencies, or ‘signatures’, given off when liquids or gases interact with light.
Capable of a detection rate of one every few seconds, the device is six times faster than state of the art trace portal scanners.
The MIRPHAB, or ‘Mid-Infrared photonics devices fabrication for chemical sensing and spectroscopic applications’ project, is being coordinated by CEA-Leti, France, and has received funding of €13million from the European Commission's Photonics Public Private Partnership under the Horizon 2020 program, and €2m from the Swiss Government.
Project coordinator Sergio Nicoletti said: “we are making the next generation of sensors that are compact, low cost, low on power consumption and capable of real-time detection where the speed and sensibility is unrivalled.”
The device can also detect diseases, scan for bacteria in fridges and detect the presence of alcohol, and according to Jose Pozo, director of technology and innovation, at the European Photonics Industry Consortium, spectroscopic sensing in the Mid-IR wavelength band (3 to 12µm) could help with climate change and monitor emission controls. Pozo explains that MIRPPHAB will turn these achievements into business and commercial opportunities for both SMEs and large industrial groups.
The device could be installed on the front of airports, scanning crowds for suspicious material, like explosives or illegal drugs, before they even enter the building.