Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) continue to make progress in developing a universal detection system that can monitor the air for virtually all of the major threat agents that could be used by terrorists. The system, called Single-Particle Aerosol Mass Spectrometry (SPAMS), had been previously proven to be able to detect biological, chemical and explosive agents.
Now, the Livermore team has added the ability to detect illicit drugsand powders from radioactive metals. They developed the software capability to assist in detecting metal powders, and the algorithms to help detect all four threat agents at one time.
"We believe SPAMS is the only detection instrument that can autonomously detect multiple types of threat agents and trigger alarms within less than a minute," said Matthias Frank, an LLNL physicist. "What sets this work apart," he explained, "is that we did our experiments with all these types of threat agents within minutes of each other, without reconfiguring the SPAMS instrument."