Bomb Detector Smells like a Moth

By Nicholas Janitsary

For years, law enforcement agencies around the world have used dogs to sniff for explosives, but dogs are not the only animals now in use. In 2009, DARPA began experiments using bees to locate landmines, but now a new detection technology has been developed based on moths.

The silkmoth, or Bombyx mori, has antennae that are highly evolved to detect smells in very low concentrations. The new detector imitates the design of the moth’s antennae, and consists of a long spine covered with up to half a million microscopic nanotubes made from titanium dioxide. The system, developed by a team of researchers in Europe, has the potential to be 1,000 times more sensitive than current TNT detectors. The detector has successfully completed laboratory testing, but has not been tested yet in the field.

Nicholas Janitsary has a Ph.D. in Criminology and is the Managing Director of New Dimension Group.

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