A portable device being developed by US scientists can make highly reliable detection of explosives inside luggage in the amount of time it requires to take a breath!

The technology by R. Graham Cooks at Purdue University and other researchers can sniff the surface of a piece of luggage and determine whether a hazardous substance is likely to be inside, based on residual chemicals brushed from the hand of someone loading the suitcase.

“We think it could be useful in screening suspect packages in airports, train stations and other places where there have been problems in the past,” Cooks said, according to a report on the university website.

Because the technology works on other surfaces, such as skin and clothing, as well it also could help determine whether an individual has been involved in the handling of these chemicals,” Cooks said.

The researchers’ method uses a tool common in many chemistry and biology labs called a mass spectrometer that has been modified to analyse samples directly from the environment rather than requiring the lengthy pre-treatment that laboratory mass that spectrometry samples typically require.

According to Cooks, no portable device is currently on the market that can analyse samples in this manner.

More here.