A non-invasive scanner that uses ultraviolet laser to spot small amounts of explosives could prevent terror attacks at transport hubs and stadia, says its British inventor. Jim Drury reports.
British scientists say they can prevent attacks like the recent Brussels Airport bombings that killed 32 people. Loughborough University spinout Laser Optical Engineering says its ExDtect scanner spots miniscule explosive particles. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR JOHN TYRER, LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF LASER OPTICAL ENGINEERING, SAYING: "The system consists of a pulsed ultraviolet laser in here and there's some special cameras designed to look specifically for the explosive molecules. We've got a power supply down here, and then we've got the brains of the unit - the processing system which is then able to recognise the explosives on virtually any background." Handling explosives leaves invisible traces on fingers and clothes which are transferred to anything touched by would-be bombers. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR JOHN TYRER, LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF LASER OPTICAL ENGINEERING, SAYING: "Having touched the Semtex there's no visible residue on my fingers and yet the system's automatically pulling that out." Security operators would be alerted in real time by silent alarm. ExDtect could be deployed near entrances to transport hubs and sports stadia. It would be hidden from view, which security experts say is crucial. SOUNDBITE (English) MATTHEW FINN, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF AUGMENTIQ, SAYING: "Good security is often the kind of security where you don't know that things are going on. So with that technology we've seen developed by Loughborough University, that could be placed in areas in a covert way. We could be looking at identifying explosive traces and compounds on people and they'd be completely unaware of it." ExDetect doesn't produce invasive images of travellers, unlike other controversial scanners. The firm believes it's created a clear deterrent to potential bombers, while speeding our transit through airports. It's currently being tested by an international courier to scan its cargo.