Sandia Labs develops new, smaller detectors for chemical and biological threats

Sandia National Laboratories announced on Thursday that it has developed new, smaller detectors capable of finding explosives and chemical and biological threats.

The miniature pulsed-discharge ionization detectors are tiny detectors that are capable of finding toxic industrial chemicals, biological volatiles, greenhouse gases and other dangerous substances.

"We now have new detectors, like the PDID, with higher sensitivity and broader applicability that would integrate well with the SAW and micro-GCs to provide both sensitivity, the ability to detect a few molecules of a given compound, and selectivity, the ability to distinguish compounds from one another," Ron Manginell, a researcher at Sandia, said.

The mini-PDIDS show promise in other areas as well. Because of their ability to detect vapors from a bacteria, the mini-PDIDS could be used to stop the illegal transport of people, drugs, weapons or other contraband across border crossings.

Other versions of the mini-PDIDS could be used to detect tuberculosis in livestock and humans. A similar approach, which detects E. coli in the soil and water, has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory that is operated by the Sandia Corporation. Its main facilities are located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Livermore, California.