Hand-held device detects liquid bombs in 5 seconds

Hand-held device detects liquid bombs in 5 seconds
A Japanese research team has developed a bomb-detection device that can quickly determine if liquid inside a container is explosive or flammable. Once the device is manufactured, it could rapidly speed up baggage inspections at busy airports.

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When checking for liquid explosives at airports, many of the devices used are cumbersome and take time to give results. Osaka University researchers said earlier this month they have developed a hand-held device that can detect whether a bottle’s contents are explosive or flammable in a matter of seconds. When placed between two cylinders that emit a LED light – using Near-Infrared Resonance – the device cross-references the light-absorption properties of the liquid with a stored database. Depending on the safety of the liquid, a lamp glows either red or green.

Already, scientists picture using the device in a variety of circumstances.

The device should prove useful not just in airports, but also in a variety of event venues and museums, including the Olympic games,” Hideo Itozaki, a professor of engineering who led the team of researchers at Osaka University, told the Ashai Shimbun.

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Results can take less than a second to come in if the content of the plastic bottle is ordinary like water; a less common liquid will take about five seconds to analyze. Liquids in opaque containers such as aluminum cans are inspected using a different method, whereby sensors touch the surface of the containment vessel. The device is compact and can be installed anywhere, and findings are displayed on the device, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

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Developers conducted a month-long trial of the bomb-detecting device at Narita Airport’s international terminal, and hope to collaborate with a private developer to sell their hand-held device next spring.