Scientists in California and Michigan report development toward a "universal point detection system," a long sought three-in-one machine that screens airline passengers and baggage for explosive, chemical and biological threats at the same time.
George R. Farquar and colleagues describe latest tests on the device, which uses a technology called single-particle aerosol mass spectrometry (SPAMS), in an article scheduled for the March 15 issue of the ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.
In previous research, the scientists developed and tested effectiveness of a SPAMS system for the detection of chemical and biological agents. The new research expands SPAMS' capabilities to include several kinds of explosives that have been used worldwide in improvised explosive devices and other terrorist attacks.
The study concludes that SPAMS has the potential to detect the presence of explosives even if only one dust-speck-sized particle weighing one trillionth of a gram, (one gram is one-twenty-eighth of an ounce), is present on an individual's clothing or baggage.
"SPAMS is a sensitive, specific, reliable option for airport and baggage screening," the report states. "The ability of the SPAMS system to determine the identity of a single particle is a valuable asset when the target analyte is dangerous in small quantities or has no legal reason for being present in an environment."
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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