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Nesta invests in drive-thru rad scanner

Symetrica to sort dirty bombs from bananas

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A prototype drive-through scanner that can distinuish between various sources of radioactivity is being developed for use in airports and other high-security areas.

The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) has invested £99,000 in Symetrica, a University of Southampton spin-off, to develop the technology.

Symetrica 's Dr Brian Lever explained that at the moment, scanners can't differentiate between dirty bombs and cancer patients or ceramic tiles and crates of bananas. All these items are radioactive, to an extent. "That's not good enough in the world post 9/11, when security services need to accurately identify radioactive threat materials," he noted.

The gamma ray detector hardware and signal processing software is based on technologies originally developed for space science. The equipment can tell which materials are a threat and which are not without needing to send anything for further analysis.

As well as the drive through model, the company is working on a handheld detector device. More about them here. ®

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