New Sensor In The MIX
With security a top priority for government agencies, both the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy have turned to Paul Labarile, inventor of the access control portal in the 1970s. With 30 years of experience in design of access control systems and manufacturing expertise, Labarile founded Isotec Inc., a subsidiary of World-Am. Isotec develops, integrates and supplies passage control security portals to various government agencies.
Using advancements in the field of micro-sensors that have applications in Homeland security, monitoring indoor air quality, food processing and health care, Senz-It technology is being designed to identify patterns of molecules present in air or liquid environments for significantly less cost than current approaches. The device includes a slide the size of a dime that can detect 20-30 analytes. Its potential products are intended to compete in the developing field of real-time detection and notification devices including a hand-held sensor expected to be available in mid-2007.
A Molecular Imprinted Xerogel (MIX) would create sensors using fluorescent molecules that rest inside the imprint. When a dangerous analyte makes a footprint, it blocks the fluorescent molecule. Looking for the quenching of light energy indicates an analyte has been detected, and depending on how much light is darkened, the level of concentration can be pinpointed.
“Isotec provides an excellent platform to integrate Senz-it sensors into access control equipment,” Labarile says. “The ability to provide seamless multi-material detection and rapid response would enable us to track the flow of personnel better, and also to track the materials that personnel and others may be carrying, unwittingly or not.”
The ability of a new generation of security portals to detect almost any substance is critical, not only to stay ahead of potential terrorist threats, but also to advance the areas of air quality detection and food safety. Technology that can detect multiple substances and that can adapt rapidly to new substance threats would be in high demand from multiple sectors and apply to hundreds of applications.
“We’re implementing a cutting-edge security portal system that combines the access control system with the technology of MIX,” Labarile said.
The new system is designed with a remote console, which configures how the system functions — how fast, or slow, it operates and what level of sensitivity to materials is necessary. It tells security personnel what’s coming in and what’s going out. The new sensor portal technology is anticipated to be on the market the first quarter of 2008.
While the Department of Energy converts its access security systems, it continues to use a system that involves automated interlocking doors and a card access system that only allows one person inside the portal at a time. This requires security personnel to check that no one entering or exiting the building has weapons or biohazard — thus increasing personnel costs.
“Our largest cost is security personnel and that’s an annual recurring cost. With the budget the way it is today, savings is mighty important,” says Mike Bristol, a Department of Energy employee formerly with Wackenhut Security. “Because [Isotec is] a smaller company and the only portal manufacturer that customize[s] their designs, [the portals] are remotely operated. There’s no requirement for manning.”
“During the performance of our exhaustive testing regime we concluded that the Isotec screening portals exceeded our expectations.”