Purdue researchers craft handheld chemical analyzer, likens Tricorder

Darren Murph
D. Murph|02.28.07

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Purdue researchers craft handheld chemical analyzer, likens Tricorder
Hot on the heels of being crowned the most prolific pirating university in the land, Purdue is donning its halo once again by kicking out yet another invention that will surely make the world a better place to reside. The Mini 10 prototype is a handheld chemical analyzer that its creators have likened to Star Trek's "Tricorder," and while the internal abilities should genuinely impress, we're handing out a round of golf claps for the uber-glitzy motif it's got going on. The sophisticated sensing system measures just 13.5- x 8.5- x 7.5-inches and weighs in at 22-pounds, which is around 30 times less than conventional mass spectrometers, and aside from its ability to be completely portable via battery power, it still sports the same sniffing capabilities as its mammoth-sized siblings. In order to cram such potent chemical sensing abilities into such a small package, a miniature mass spectrometer is "combined with a technique called desorption electrospray ionization (DESI)," and can display the chemical composition of materials in a "matter of minutes without harming the samples." Interestingly enough, the prototype has already analyzed garb, food, and actual cocaine, and while we're not quite sure when you'll be able to snatch one of these up to "check in" on your mischievous teen, a couple of Indiana-based firms are apparently already looking into commercialization options.

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