New sensor technology is being developed to specifically detect chemicals and illegal drugs in order to help airports improve security.

The new technology is being developed by scientists from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland and the research has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK.

The technology uses gel pads to collect samples from an individual or an area, which are later analysed by a scanner and pass through a laser beam to detect any presence of chemicals.

To detect the smallest trace of chemical concentrations, the sample can be mixed with nanoscale silver particles.

Forensic Science Northern Ireland will provide feedback on the technology and Queen’s University’s school of pharmacy will also collaborate on the project.