Machine Design

Invention targets carry-on bombs

University of Wyoming researchers have developed a method to rapidly detect explosives such as the liquid compounds that were part of a recently-thwarted plot to detonate bombs on as many as 10 U.S.-bound airliners.

Tony Nevshemal, director of UW's Research Products Center, says the technology, called surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, offers substantial commercial opportunities.

"We have developed a portable, lightweight system that can detect explosives in bombs, accelerants in arson, and biological species in biological weapons. In fact, it can detect any compound for which an antibody can be made," says Pat Sullivan, a professor in the UW Dept. of Chemistry. Sullivan is one of three scientists who received a patent for the sensors that can detect specific compounds in liquids and in air.

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