MSU Professor Invents Laser That Detects Explosives

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

EAST LANSING (WILX)-- Body scans equipped with bomb-detecting lasers may become the next big thing at airport security, and a professor at MSU gets the credit.

Dr. Marcos Dantus, with his team of grad students, invented a laser that detects explosive chemicals on clothing and luggage.

Using a single beam with two pulses, the laser can detect traces of an explosive when the pulses come back at certain frequencies. It can't detect anything under the outer layer, but it can find particles 1/1000th of the size of a piece of sugar.

"Someone that has worked in an area where explosives where manipulated will set the laser off," said Dantus.

Dantus says he got the idea after 9/11 when airport security was heightened. Research started in 2007.

"Every time I hear of a terrorist attack I wish there was something I could do about it," said Dantus.

The laser is now ready to be made marketable. It's powerful enough for detection, but safe enough to use on people.

"It's just light," says Dantus.

The Department of Homeland Security has been overseeing the project. While the exact plans for the usage of the laser cannot be released, Dantus says it'll probably be a while before it's used on people. It's likely to be first used in a conveyor belt, like the luggage x-ray machines at airports.

"As technology gets improved and kinks are worked out they might consider doing something like a body scan," said Dantus.

An aerospace company has already expressed interest in furthering the technology. Dantus says a product could be created in as little as six months if there's enough interest and funding.


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