This Stamp-Sized Sensor Can Sniff Out Explosives Using RFID Tags

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Detecting explosives is, obviously, an important task – but many of the sensors are large and require manual operation. So GE's tiny and affordable new RFID sensor could help automate the process, to help keep us safe without much in the way of man power.

Developed in collaboration with the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) – a task force dedicated to anti-terrorism – the device repurposes RFID tags as sensors, by applying a lick of sensing material to their side. GE is tight-lipped about exactly what they entails, merely explaining that it's developed "a sensing material that responds to explosives and oxidisers".

Whatever that is, exactly, it claims that it's "quite sensitive for this type of detection". As a result, it hopes that the sensors could be placed in spaces like cargo containers and airports to detect explosives in their vicinity – up to a dozen feet away, according to GE –working for months without needing replacement. In theory only costing pennies to make in bulk, they could be liberally skittered around at-risk environments.

It's hoped that similar detectors will soon be made to detect biological matter like spores and bacteria, too. So while they might save us from bombs in the first instance, they could save our lives in other way in the long-term. [WIRED]

Image by GE Global Research