This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

The laser science and technology center (LASTEC) in New Delhi has developed a portable device which uses a laser beam to detect explosives in a matter of seconds. A scientist from the center explained that metal detectors and x-ray scanners were not effective enough to detect explosives which a person could carry in gel, liquid or powder forms, among others.

“People carry all kinds of things like shampoo, medicines, talcum powder and so on. It is difficult to judge whether they are disguised explosives without testing in a forensic lab. The handheld detector can solve this problem because, within 12 seconds, it can tell whether the talcum powder a passenger is carrying is an explosive substance or not. The device already has an in-built library of 40 kinds of explosive substances. It will match the result with entries in the library, identify the substance and display the name,” he told

Trinitrotoluene (TNT), nitro glucose and nitrocellulose are some of the explosive substances in the library. Substances which may be harmless by themselves, but can be explosive when mixed with other materials are also included in the database.

This laser detection method does not damage the material it inspects and can detect through glass and translucent containers as well. The device is portable, weighing 8 kg, and is powered by rechargeable batteries.

The detector will be supplied to major international airports in the country and to other sensitive areas such as industrial establishments of national interest. “We’ve demonstrated the device to several organisations such as the National Security Guard (NSG). They approved it and the detectors are now in production,” the scientist said.

The technology of the detector has been transferred to four Indian companies for production and in four to six months, the detectors will be supplied wherever required.