Optical detector

Researchers at MIT Lincoln Laboratory have developed a powerful optical sensor that can detect airborne pathogens such as anthrax and smallpox in less than three minutes. PANTHER (PAthogen Notification for THreatening Environmental Releases), uses a cell-based sensor technology known as CANARY to can pick up a positive reading with only a few dozen particles per liter of air. PANTHER combines the CANARY technology with an air sampler that brings pathogens into contact with the detector cells. The prototype sensor is about a cubic foot and weighs 37 lbs. It could be used in buildings, subways and other public areas, and can currently detect 24 pathogens, including anthrax, plague, smallpox, tularemia and E. coli. The technology has been licensed to Innovative Biosensors (Rockville, MD), which in January began selling a product, BioFlash, that uses the PANTHER technology.

MIT Lincoln Laboratory

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