Canberra, June 19 : An Australian researcher has developed a machine that can quickly determine the type of explosives used in a terrorist attack, which can help in the capture of terrorists.
The researcher in question is Paul Haddard, who along with his team at the Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science produced the briefcase-sized machine to help investigators of terrorist attacks quickly identify the amount and type of explosive used in a blast.
According to Haddad, the technology would help speed up the process of catching terrorists like the Bali Bombers.
"It is important to know what the explosive used is because you can then look at whoever bought a tonne of that material, that's how terrorists are most commonly apprehended," he said.
"That's what happened in Bali once the identification was made, which took weeks I might add, eventually the purchasers of those materials were tracked down," he added.
In contrast, Haddad's machine can identify the same type of materials used in the Bali bombings onsite in only seven minutes, significantly speeding up the investigation process.
The machine works using a process called capillary electrophoresis, which uses an electric current to force the collected bomb residue through a small straw, about the width of four human hairs.
Because different chemicals travel along the straw at different speeds, it is possible to quickly determine what they are by simply measuring the time it takes them to arrive at the other end.
"It's been picked up by the US Department of Homeland Security and has been implemented here by a number of regulatory authorities, so we're very pleased about that," said Haddad.
The researcher and his team are continuing to study ways to improve the technology with the aim of making the device handheld.
According to Haddad, "We're trying to make it much faster, down to a minute. We're trying to look at a wider range of explosives and we're trying to take it right down to the handheld size and completely automate it."