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Posted: July 19, 2006
Nanodog - the biosensor that can sniff out explosives
(Nanowerk News) Scientists in Wales have developed a biosensor capable of detecting and identifying very low levels of explosives in the atmosphere -- a technology with potential to be a major contributor in the battle against terrorism.
The biosensor was developed by a team from the School of Chemistry at the University of Wales Bangor (UWB) led by Professor Maher Kalaji, head of the School of Chemistry.
With support from the Welsh Assembly Government's Knowledge Exploitation Fund, the team has successfully developed the biosensor, patented the technology and is currently working towards a prototype for commercialization.
The small biosensor device, referred to as the "nanodog," employs nanotechnology to achieve its sensitivity. The sensor can detect explosives in the part-per-trillion range. It uses enzymes to detect explosives -- even if they are concealed, not only detecting very small amounts of explosives, but also can be developed to reveal the identity of the explosive material.
Potential applications include screening airport passengers and luggage, and working alongside sniffer dogs to reduce the threat of terrorism. The compact nature of the device also offers opportunity for passive sensing in areas with security requirements and will, for example, sense explosives as passengers walk though security portals without intruding on their personal space as current technologies do.
Based on presentations and demonstrations, governmental and private sector organizations in the U.S. and Europe have expressed interest, indicating that the still-young technology is extremely effective in response time and detection levels.
UWB will be a major partner in the development of sensors for explosives with its biosensor a core technology in the project, which brings together a consortium of 26 EU organizations.
"This is an exciting project, and support from the Knowledge Exploitation Fund has been invaluable -- without this resource we would not have been able to undertake proof-of-concept work, a vital early step toward product development," Professor Kalaji said.
"This latest project could have a huge impact in the fight against terrorism, and support from the Knowledge Exploitation Fund illustrates the importance of working with academia to provide funding and support that enables the commercialization of research," Andrew Davies, Minister for Enterprise Innovation and Networks, noted.