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Anthrax dectectors are coming

A researcher working under an Office of Naval Research grant is just a couple of months away from completing a prototype detector designed to sound the alarm when airborne microbes such as anthrax are in the air.

Dr. Jeanne Small, a biophysicist and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash., has come up with a detector that continuously samples the air, offering analysis in under a half-hour. Our research showed that common substances such as road dust and soot behaved differently than bacteria, Small said.

Dr. Small has successfully tested biological particles ranging in size from 1 to 10 microns by using lasers and acoustic sensors to detect and identify microbes. In the research, laser pulses were used to excite light-absorbing substances that release energy as heat. Heat-induced solvent expansion generated sound waves, which were measured by an ultrasonic transducer.


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Contact: Audrey Haar
haara@onr.navy.mil
703-696-2869
Office of Naval Research
29-Oct-2001


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