Man's best friend might soon be out of a job. A team of UC Berkeley scientists have developed a new sensor that can detect trace amounts of explosives at less than one part per billion, akin to finding a single blade of grass on a football field. The discovery represents a major advancement in surface plasmon sensor technology and may hold the key to sniffing out hard-to-detect explosives favored by terrorists, according to the university.
The sensor offers several potential advantages over current bomb-screening options. Bomb-sniffing dogs are expensive to train and they can get tired, while the swabs used at airports to check for explosive residue have low sensitivity and require physical touch. The sensor technology could eventually lead to a bomb-detecting chip embedded in a handheld device or be developed into an alarm for unexploded landmines.
The sensor reflects the rapid advances researchers are making in plasmosensor technology and could have applications that extend beyond explosive detection, including use in biomolecular research.