IIT incubates launch world's first microsensor-based explosive detector

The micro-sensor based explosive trace detector (ETD)
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay incubated startup NanoSniff Technologies has developed the world's first micro-sensor based explosive trace detector (ETD) which will be marketed by IIT Delhi-incubated startup Vehant Technologies.

To be branded and marketed as 'NanoSniffer', the device has been developed for the first time in the world using a micro-electromechanical system (MEMS), with its core technology being protected by patents in the US, Europe and India.

A fully made in India product in terms of R&D and manufacturing, the indigenously developed ETD device can detect explosives in less than 10 seconds and it also identifies and categorizes explosives into different classes. It detects all classes of military, conventional and homemade explosives.

NanoSniffer provides trace detection of nano-gram quantities of explosives and can accurately detect a wide range of military, commercial and homemade explosives threats. Further analysis of the algorithms also helps in categorization of explosives into the appropriate class. According to Kapil Bardeja, CEO of Vehant Technologies and Director, Nanosniff technologies, the device has been priced at Rs 10 lakh, one-third of the existing similar devices by global peers.

"So far, all the other existing explosive detector devices were global. This is the first time that an Indian player has forayed in the segment. While NanoSniff will manufacture the sensor in-house, the electronic part of the device will be manufactured by an electronics manufacturer that we have roped in. Vehant will market the product," said Bardeja.

Initially, the manufacturing capacity will be about 50 units per month. The device is undergoing a security testing process for Europe with both the startups looking at an international foray into European markets first, followed by the US.

Launching the product virtually, union minister for education Ramesh Pokhriyal said that the affordable device will reduce the country's dependency on imported explosive trace detector devices, apart from encouraging other institutions, startups and medium-scale industries to research and develop products indigenously.

"With the development of this product, IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi along with their offshoot companies are making a sincere effort to boost the nation’s security with highly reliable and affordable indigenous products," said V Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi and Chairman, NanoSniff Technologies.

According to Bardeja, the global explosives trace detector device industry is valued at Rs 10000 crore, with India forming 2-3 per cent only, thereby enhancing scope of adoption for a cost-effective alternative in NanoSniffer.

Meanwhile, Rao maintained that the country needs to see more academic institutions backed startups come up. However, for that to happen, patent filing has to ramp up at institutions.

"As compared to the US where a patent is filed for every five research papers published, India sees one patent for every 300 papers. At IIT Delhi we have adopted a time-bound patent filing process wherein students and faculty are encouraged to convert their research papers into patents. For more technology startups to come up from academic institution backed incubation centres, patent filing has to ramp up in the country," Rao added.

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