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NCJ Number: 202053 Find in a Library
Title: Dust in Time: Detecting Bioterror with Tiny Particles
Journal: Law Enforcement Technology  Volume:30  Issue:8  Dated:August 2003  Pages:98,100,101
Author(s): Douglas Page
Date Published: August 2003
Page Count: 3
Type: Technical Assistance
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses new technology designed to detect hazardous substances.
Abstract: Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed dust-sized chips of silicon capable of rapidly and remotely detecting biological and chemical agents, including substances that a terrorist might dissolve in drinking water, spray into the atmosphere, or fold into a letter. This technology could aid law enforcement or homeland security personnel as an advanced warning system for biological and chemical attacks. The objective is to construct sensors for chemical or biological molecules that use no power, are the size of dust particles, and can be probed at a distance using visible or infrared laser scanning technology. When porous dust recognizes what kinds of chemicals or biological agents are present, that information can be read like a series of barcodes by a laser that’s similar to a grocery store scanner. The barcode is basically a specific wavelength of light or color. The crystals are not only small in size, inconspicuous, and capable of detecting thousands of possible agents at once, but they can also detect potentially hazardous compounds from a considerable distance. The advantage of law enforcement, HazMat crews, or homeland protection teams being able to detect biohazards from a half-mile away would be extraordinary. Once perfected, the smart dust could be sprayed almost anywhere or mixed into samples of drinking water and scanned for thousands of hazardous chemicals. Smart dust coated with specific compounds could also be useful as an inexpensive mobile molecular detector.
Main Term(s): Crime detection; Hazardous substances or materials
Index Term(s): Biological weapons; Chemical irritants; Crime Scene Investigation; Occupational safety and health; Poisons and poison analysis; Terrorist weapons
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