Soon, a portable device to detect explosives

Soon, a portable device to detect explosives

A portable device, which will soon replace sniffer dogs to detect explosives, is in the works at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IITB) and will be available to security agencies by the next a year.

The handheld device is fitted with sensors, which will work exactly on the principle of the human nose, within an electronic device. “There are multiple sensors which will sense various molecules like those in explosive devices such as RDX and TNT. It will then be programmed to read a pattern and this will be stored in the device,” said A V Ramgopal, P K Kelkar Chair Professor of Nano Technology, IITB.
He was speaking with Deccan Herald on the sidelines of the 8th Bangalore India Nano here on Friday.

The device can then be miniaturised into a device as small as a matchbox and even fitted in various public places such as hotels and railway stations. “It will perform the job of a thousand sniffer dogs,” added Ramgopal.

While the existing devices cost anywhere around Rs 15 lakh, this one will be priced as low as Rs 5,000, he said.

The device is being developed under the guidance of the principal scientific advisor and a monitoring committee comprising organisations such as the Central Industrial Security Force, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the National Security Agency and the Intelligence Bureau.

The making of the device took five years, involving a multidisciplinary team of faculty and researchers at the IITB, in association with the Electronics Corporation of India Limited, Ramgopal said.

Predicting heart attack

Can a device predict heart attacks? Researchers at the IITB think so and have also designed a monitoring device to do exactly that.

Ramgopal said: “It is a micro-cantilever based bio-sensing system. The project is being funded by the National Programme on Micro and Smart Systems under the DRDO. A prototype has already been developed.”

The device will be commercially available via a startup incubated at the institute – Nano Sniff. Also, with an aim to boost productivity and save water, the institute has designed a sensor that can improve crop yield by using only 50% of water presently being consumed in agriculture, he said.

Easy cancer detection

A biopsy is presently the method used to detect cancer. However, a team of scientists from the Institute of Nano Science Nanotechnology, Mohali, has devised an easy method to detect cancer by using a simple chip made from silicon-based organic polymer.

The primary aim is to validate third stage cancer metastasis, particularly, prostrate cancer and recommend treatment accordingly. Detection of other kinds of cancer is also possible with the chip, according to scientists.    

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