A team of scientists led by the Australian National University (ANU) has invented a new device with advanced sensing functions that can help improve airport security.

Produced using ultra-compact structures known as metasurfaces, the device is capable of controlling the direction of electromagnetic waves.

The new device can be equipped to airport security cameras to expedite passenger processing at airports and help reduce waiting times.

“These future cameras could identify hazardous devices or dangerous chemicals in people’s carry-on baggage.”

Lead researcher at the ANU’s Research School of Physics and Engineering Nonlinear Physics Centre Dr Mingkai Liu said: “This device can sense the entire environment surrounding it with unprecedented precision. Previously, multiple fixed sensors pointing towards different directions would be required to achieve this.

“These future cameras could identify hazardous devices or dangerous chemicals in people’s carry-on baggage when they walk through an airport without needing them to queue up and go through the various procedures that are necessary now.”

The research has already led to a proof-of-concept prototype device and provisional patent.

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As well as applications in airport security, the new concept can be used to develop compact sensors for driverless cars and other vehicles to help overcome safety challenges.

The research team will continue to develop the device so that it is ready to be commercialised and manufactured on a larger scale.

A team of researchers from the School of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of New South Wales, Canberra, were also involved in the project.