ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A tiny new device created by researchers at Sandia National Labs could be a big breakthrough in detecting airborne chemicals, germs and biological threats.
The device can smell out all of those things and is small enough to fit in a pocket which could be a big help for doctors and soldiers.
The device has two parts: One is a little white and silver cylinder, the is other a gold cylinder shape.
A researcher for Sandia National Labs, Ron Manginell calls the device a mini pulse discharge ionization detector, or P-Did..
He says it’s a big advancement for two reasons, the first being how small it is.
"What we've done is made a miniature version of a commercial detector,” said Manginell, showing a microwave-looking machine used to do the same thing.
His work has made the P-Did small enough to fit in a cellphone.
The second big advancement with the technology is what the device can sniff out.
“What this does is it allows us to use chemicals, vapor chemicals, to detect both (chemical and biological threats) instead of having to have a separate liquid system,” Manginell said.
The miniature device can smell out everything from explosives and pesticides to germs and bacteria. Manginell says there are military uses and civilian uses.
The detectors could help with border security where agents needs to detect bombs, drugs and people.
But hospitals could also benefit by detecting lung and stomach cancer from someone's breath. That way, a patient could have an initial, less-invasive screening than taking a blood sample, Mangiell said.
Sandia National Labs is now applying for grants to get more of the detectors built. Researches hope to get them into the field over the next few years.
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