DARPA is investigating handheld UV laser devices to help soldiers detect biological and chemical weapons from a safe distance. But when they master that technology, it won't just be used on the battlefield; it could also help public health workers detect and track outbreaks of communicable diseases. Fighting flu with lasers? This really is the future.
Naturally, military researchers' number one goal in developing this technology is helping soldiers detect bombs. But as Defense One points out, handheld devices that sense chemical and biological weapons could also be effective in tracking viruses. Compact Mid-Ultraviolet Technology (CMUVT), with wavelengths in the 200-300 nanometre range, has already shown itself capable of detecting ovalbumin, a protein similar to many biological agents.
This technology is important for early detection, especially where high-mortality viruses are concerned. As the military refines and miniaturises its bomb-detecting technology (DARPA's target size is a minuscule two cubic inches for the entire device), the advances will have an impact far beyond the battlefield.
Lasers: the latest weapon in the war on sniffles. [Defense One]
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