A team of ASU scientists is fighting the war on terrorism from inside their laboratory. The group has created a device that detects liquid explosives such as those found in the London Heathrow Airport bomb scare this summer.
“The goal is to develop an effective, simple device so you can do rapid screening in the airport,” said Arizona State University professor Joe Wang, director of the Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors.
Wang is one of four scientists who call themselves the “Explosives Dream Team.” The group started in July and developed a prototype within two months that transforms a glucose meter into a hand-held antiterrorism device.
“We knew that we needed to detect peroxide,” Wang said. “And we have a longterm expertise in peroxide from our expertise in glucose monitoring for diabetics.”
The device works almost like a glucose meter. Users simply put a drop of the chemical agent onto a disposable strip to test it.
The ASU scientists are working with the Transportation Security Administration on two different models for mass production. If they get funding, Wang said travelers might see the device used during airport screening within 12 to 15 months.
In the future, Wang said the technology could be changed to detect other chemical agents besides peroxide.
And, he said, it won’t just be used for security. Wang said it also will be used for health care screenings, such as cancer, and it will be used to detect pollution in the environment.
This is not Wang’s first major career accomplishment. He’s been a scientist for more than three decades, and the Biodesign Institute reports that he is the most published engineer in the world.
Last year, he was named Electrochemist of the Year by the American Chemical Society.
“We do a lot, many things,” Wang said. “This is in the news, so it’s become important, apparently.”