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A Five-in-One Detector May Improve Airport Security

Narrator:        This is Science Today. A multipurpose detection system that can be used to detect biological, chemical, narcotic and explosive agents has been developed by a team of researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Staff scientist George Farquar says the system uses a technique called Single Particle Aerosol Mass Spectrometry, or SPAMS.

Farquar:          It's a technique that's been around for several years. The current version that we're working on was developed through DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] as the bioaerosol mass spectrometer and the recent work that I've been doing is been expanding that technology from biologicals and to explosives, drug detection, chemical agents and isotopes as well.

Narrator:        After more field test studies, the goal is to someday use this type of five-in-one screening detector at airports.

Farquar:          Anytime we can increase the capability of detecting threats is the most important thing and also, at speed. We want to have people efficiently to go through the checkpoints without a lot of hand searches and things like that.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin