De­tect­ing chemical com­po­si­tion of liq­uids


In the run­ning for UK’s pre­mier en­gi­neer­ing prize is a new ma­chine which can iden­tify the chemical com­po­si­tion of liq­uids sealed within non-metal­lic con­tain­ers with­out open­ing them. There are quite a few con­tenders for the MacRobert Award. The ma­chine has been de­ployed in 65 air­ports across Europe and it can pro­tect trav­el­ers by screen­ing for liq­uid ex­plo­sives and could spell the end of the ban on liq­uids in hand lug­gage.

Based on re­search un­der­taken at the Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Fa­cil­i­ties Coun­cil, Oxfordshire-based Cobalt Light Sys­tems has de­vel­oped an air­port se­cu­rity scan­ner, the In­sight100. It should en­able air­ports to re­move the ex­ist­ing hand-lug­gage liq­uid ban through phased im­ple­men­ta­tion over the next two years.

An STFC re­lease re­ports that the In­sight100’s un­der­ly­ing tech­nol­ogy was first de­vel­oped by STFC’s Pro­fes­sor Pavel Matousek in a true eureka mo­ment at the Cen­tral Laser Fa­cil­ity. Pro­fes­sor Matousek said: “The tech­nol­ogy works us­ing the tech­nique of Ra­man spec­troscopy. When com­bined with ad­vanced al­go­rithms to dis­tin­guish be­tween the container and its con­tents, the tech­nol­ogy is able to iden­tify the chemical com­po­si­tion in sec­onds, and with greater re­li­a­bil­ity than any other ex­ist­ing sys­tem.”

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