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Defense & Security

Scotland scientists develop remote-controlled laser detector for IEDs

The Times
10 June 2010

A remotely-controlled "sniffer dog" that can detect tell-tale molecules from the vapor given off by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has been developed by scientists at the University of St Andrews.

The technology, which utilizes cheap plastic materials to create a laser beam, is described as an artificial nose that can identify and neutralize landmines and IEDs. In addition to playing a key role on the battlefield, the new system could be used as a screening device at airports.

"If the gold standard in detection is a sniffer dog, this essentially creates an artificial nose that can sniff out the smells that hang around hidden explosives," says Graham Turnbull, a lecturer in physics and astronomy.

Using a thin film of polyfluorene, the team created a laser beam that absorbs ultraviolet light and re-emits it as a green or blue beam.

 "By controlling the light emissions - rather than being fluorescence, which is light emitted in all directions - you can engineer laser light in a well-defined output beam," Turnbull added.

The Times of London