Researchers create powerful biotoxin detector

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a new pin-sized bomb detector that may be able to foil plots to place bombs in the mail or airports by detecting and identifying explosives and biological toxins.

A team at the TAU’s Sackler School of Chemistry led by Fernando Patolsky has tackled a goal to defeat the drawbacks of current explosives and weapon detection, such as lengthy laboratory analysis, high costs and cumbersome equipment, according to People’s Daily.

The prototype sensor, based on nanotechnology, will have the ability to detect biological toxins like cholera, botulism and anthrax. It also has the ability to spot many different types of explosives like TNT, C4 and PETN - the plastic explosive recently used against Chicago synagogues in the FedEx bombing plot.

“We focused the research on developing the ability to detect substances in low concentrations,” Patolsky said, according to People’s Daily.

The sensor consists of microscopic silicon wires connected to a sensitive nano-sized transistor-on-a-chip with 200 individual sensors, People’s Daily reports. The sensor works at a distance ,so it does not need to come into contact with the person or item being checked. Patolsky believes that once out of the lab and tested in the field, the technology could be ready for marketing in one to two years.

Patolsky also spoke of how clever terrorists had become in concealing bombs in everyday objects, minimizing the amount of identifiable molecules emitted to enable detection.