New scanner could end air travel liquid restrictions

Cobalt Light Systems, a technology development company, recently developed a new machine that can identify the chemical composition of liquids sealed in non-metallic containers without opening them.

The Insight100 machine combines Raman spectroscopy with advanced algorithms that allow it to distinguish between a container and its contents in seconds. The machine has been deployed in 65 airports throughout Europe as a liquid explosives detector. The deployment could result in the end of the ban on liquids in hand luggage, Homeland Security Newswire reports.

On Monday, the Insight100 was named as one of three candidates in the running to win the U.K.'s top engineering prize, the MacRobert Award. The award identifies outstanding innovation with proven commercial promise and tangible benefit to society.

"Being selected as a finalist for the prestigious MacRobert Award is an incredible accolade for our team," Paul Loeffen, the CEO of Cobalt Light Systems, said, according to Homeland Security Newswire. "It is hugely satisfying to see an academic discovery from a U.K. laboratory undergo several stages of innovation ending with deployment at international airports to enhance passenger security. The development of the Insight100 has been a multi-disciplinary engineering effort on very tight timescales and has culminated in dramatic commercial success over the last year."

The winner will be announced on July 2 during the Royal Academy of Engineering's awards dinner at the Royal Opera House in London.

The technology was first used to help pharmaceutical companies verify medicines before it was applied to security machines. Cobalt Light Systems said it would work with partners to explore the potential of the technology in other areas like bone disease diagnosis, law enforcement, food analysis, breast cancer screening and in the detection of counterfeit goods, Homeland Security Newswire reports.