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Israel’s Tracense’s New Nanotechnology Can Literally Smell the Smallest Traces of Explosives

The security process at airports and at other sensitive locations is about to get much simpler.

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Anyone who flies pretty much anywhere in the western world these days has seen a number of high tech gadgets in use by security teams at airports. These include devices such as electric sniffers that can detect traces of explosives. If a passenger or his luggage have been in contact with explosives then this can be spotted, alerting security to a possible threat.

Now Israeli startup Trancense, in cooperation with a team of researchers at Tel Aviv University, has developed extremely sensitive and specific sensors based on groundbreaking nano technology. These sensors can detect a wide range of threats in gaseous streams or liquid samples even at extremely low concentrations.

The new device is capable of detecting dangerous materials, even when they are as little as a few parts per quadrillion, from as far away as 16 meters (53 feet).

In contrast current security devices used in most places can detect only a few molecules per billion. The new nanochip, therefore, will be up to one million times more effective than existing technologies.

According to Tracense its nano-sensor technology has maximum sensitivity, maximum specificity (minimize false readings), can identify a large library of substances, offers instantaneous results with no warm-up, isnon-invasive and non-contact and most importantly, it is inexpensive.

The company’s CEO, Dr. Ricardo Osiroff, said, “Our laboratory-on-a-chip nano-sensors can detect a wide range of chemical threats, such as explosives, chemical and biological warfare agents, in air, solid and liquid samples, at extremely low concentrations, unmatched by existing technologies. Our system meets and beats the capabilities of dogs and other animals.”

Tracesence - 1-2


Professor Fernando Patolsky, the company’s chief science officer, wrote in the journal Nature Communications, “Different explosives species display a distinctive pattern of interaction with the nanosensing array, thus allowing for a simple and straightforward identification of the molecule under test.”

The new technology surpasses those currently in use by allowing for detection of explosives from further away. The extremely high sensitivity exhibited by the platform, Patolsky says, could enable the remote detection of various explosives, something that devices presently used are unable to do.

“The fingerprinting of explosives is achieved by pattern recognizing the inherent kinetics, and thermodynamics, of interaction between the chemically modified nanosensors array and the molecular analytes under test. This platform allows for the rapid detection of explosives, from air collected samples, down to the parts-per-quadrillion concentration range, ” he wrote.

Located in Herzlya, Trancesnse was founded in 2010 by Fernando Patolsky and Amir Lichtenstein.

Professor Fernando Patolsky of the chemistry Department and the Nanoscience Center of the Tel-Aviv University Exact Sciences Faculty is the company’s chief science officer. One of the world leaders in the area of nano-technology and its application to devices, he holds more than 15 patents. Professor Patolsky has earned many awards during his career among them the Schmidt Prize for best Israeli Thesis and the Tel Aviv university Applied Science Award.

Dr. Ricardo Osiroff brings to Tracense more than 30 years of experience in engineering, business development and management. Prior to Tracense, he was as the CEO of Cellaris, a company with unique insulation technology and products. Dr. Osiroff spent almost 20 years with the IDF and filled a range of top R&D management positions. He has a PhD in Materials Engineering Sciences and an M.Sc. in Engineering Mechanics, both from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the Technion.



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