The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has developed a new process to detect explosives.

The process “sniffs” for explosive vapors. PNNL scientists are comparing the process to bomb-sniffing canines. The process is new and takes about one second. The new technology converts a sample of the surrounding air to ions within a reaction tube. The ionized sample travels to a mass spectrometer for ion detection and identification.

This technology is anticipated to reinvent the way security is performed around the world. It could mean a safer future. In theory, mail, luggage and people could be tested for explosives quickly and unobtrusively. The technology is still in a prototype stage. PNNL is looking at ways to make the device practical and marketable for the public.

Photo By PNNL, Geoff Harvey
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