Award for laser firm that ‘can see liquids inside objects’
Thursday 03 July 2014
A company whose technology could revolutionise airport security by identifying the chemical composition of a solid or liquid inside a container without opening it has won the top prize in British engineering.
Cobalt Light Systems has been awarded the £50,000 MacRobert Award by the Royal Academy of Engineering, beating two much larger firms, Rolls-Royce and QinetiQ.
The small Oxfordshire-based company has pioneered a technique to analyse the chemical composition of a substance behind virtually any barrier, including skin, within seconds.
Cobalt’s Insight100 machine has already been deployed this year by 65 European airports including Heathrow and Gatwick as a liquid scanner.
The hope is it could spell the end of the liquids ban for air travellers’ hand luggage, if the technology is given the green light by European regulators.
Paul Loeffen, the chief executive, said there were many other commercial possibilities. “It is a generalised techology that has many applications,” he said.
Research has begun on “non-invasive” tests for breast cancer and osteoporosis, and it could also be deployed for detecting illegal drugs and counterfeit goods and analysing food.
The techology uses Raman spectroscopy, which shines a laser to analyse the wavelengths from molecules within an object, and combines it with complex algorithms to distinguish between the container and its contents. “You can do these chemical analyses without a direct line of sight,” explained Mr Loeffen.
The MacRobert Award judges said Cobalt is “on the cusp of explosive growth, with the potential to create three or four multi-million pound businesses from their single innovation”.
Cobalt launched in 2008 as a spin-off from the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
Rolls-Royce and Jaguar Land Rover are past winners of the MacRobert Award, which seeks to identify “outstanding innovation with proven commercial promise and tangible societal benefit”.
- 1 Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
- 2 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Jennifer Lawrence: Leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by users
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
iJobs Money & Business
£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...