A project to develop new technologies for the detection of explosives and hazardous chemicals has been set up with €3.35 million worth of funding. A group of European companies, law enforcement agencies, and research institutions will collaborate on the ‘Cheques’ project, which aims to provide new anti-terrorism tools for law enforcement agencies, and improve industrial safety on oilrigs and chemical plants.
Starting this month, the Chequers project will last for three and a half years, and is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 ‘Information and Communications Technologies’ call, whose objective is to sustain Europe's industrial competitiveness and leadership in photonic market sectors and to exploit new and emerging market opportunities.
Optical technologies solutions for detecting explosive materials are available, including systems based on Raman spectroscopy and terahertz technology, but as yet none that offer any significant standoff distance between the operator and the threat. For determining whether or not something contains explosives, the further away this can be done the better.
The Cheques project will be led by the German Federal Criminal Police Office, and will also include M Squared Lasers, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems, Fraunhofer UK Research, Vigo System in Poland, and Kite Innovation, a company that works with university and commercial sectors to support research collaboration across Europe.
‘The potential application for this technology is huge; the ability for us to detect explosives and chemical warfare agents for the security sector and even potentially catastrophic leaks in the oil and gas industry could save many lives in the future,’ said Nils Hempler, head of the Innovation Business Unit at M Squared Lasers. ‘We’re really excited about this project and are looking forward to seeing it out in the real world. We aim to make this technology widely accessible to a range of emerging markets.'
‘The [German Federal Criminal Police Office] as partner in an international consortium of the Chequers project will be leading a group of potential end-users from across Europe,’ added Dr Rasmus Schulte-Ladbeck, Forensic Expert at the German Federal Criminal Police Office. ‘Collaboration with these research partners will provide useful and relevant input to support the development of practicable and user-friendly devices.’