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Friday, September 14, 2007      New: Take a Stand

'Mini-nose' bomb sniffer digitally recreates olfactory processes

TEL AVIV A new hand-held device that could detect explosives has been developed for use at airports in the United States and Israel.

The two-piece device, designed for use by security personnel, digitally recreates the mammalian olfactory processes for trace and particle detection.

Funding for development of the device which can detect suicide belts and improvised explosive devices came from the Israeli Defense Ministry and the American Technical Support Working Group at the Pentagon. The company's board of directors includes former CIA director John Deutsch and former Mossad director Shabtai Shavit.

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Scent Detection Technologies, based in Herzliya, Israel has developed the Mini-Nose portable explosive sniffer under specifications set by Israel and the United States.

Mini-Nose was based on a technology called High-Frequency Quartz Crystal Microbalance. HF-QCM, which includes an array of sensors and coating, was designed to trace levels of explosive chemicals at a lower cost and greater accuracy than existing explosive trace detection technologies.

"When you go through security checkpoints in some locations you see equipment that may have performed well in the lab but once deployed on the front lines loses much of its sensitivity and reliability," company vice president Doron Shalom told the Israel21c news website.

Shalom said Mini-Nose, which won awards in 2006 and 2007, could detect IEDs, including suicide bomber belts. He said the company, established in 2004, has adopted a concept by his father and then-Israeli chief scientist, Lev Dayan, to identify substances by algorithms.

"On the surface of each sensor is a chemical coating which is sensitive to different families of molecules of both explosive and non-explosive material," Shalom said. "When the sensors are exposed to the material, there's a change in the resonating frequency which is measured."

Executives said Mini-Nose was tested in the laboratories of the state-owned Israel Military Industries. They said SDT was also working with the U.S. government, including the Transportation Security Administration, which has deployed Mini-Nose throughout the United States and Europe.

"I am very familiar with current IMS technology and have witnessed first hand the pains and discomfort of TSA screeners working with this outdated ETD equipment," SDT operations manager in the United States Tom Neugebauer, said. "SDT has virtually eliminated most if not all the problems that front line security personnel face around the globe."

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