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A. Advanced Technology to Rapidly Detect Airborne Bioterrorist Agents

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed an award-winning, advanced technology to rapidly detect the airborne release of bioterrorist agents. Eric Gard is the Lab's division leader of Defense Biology.

Gard: What we're developing is bioaerosol mass spectrometry, or what we call BAMS. And fundamentally the technology is designed to do very rapid biologic aerosol detection in the timeframe of seconds, rather than the timeframe that's currently possible with existing technology, which is on the hour timeframe.

Narrator: The unit, which is currently the size of three podiums, works by pulling particles suspended in the air into the instrument.

Gard: We essentially track each individual particle, get its size so we understand how large that particular particle is and then we shoot it with one laser to look for fluorescence properties. And that will tell us if it's just normal background material or whether it's a biological organism.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.