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International Technologies Lasers (ITL), which is based in Rishon Letzion, has developed a device that can analyze and identify chemical elements by remote laser sensing harmless to the eyes and body.

The significance is that for the first time, cars and people may be scanned from several meters away to detect explosives, drugs or other illegal materials.

The security establishment is showing a keen interest in the new device, and ITL is expected to sign a contract with the Public Security Ministry in the near future. Several branches of the United States security forces have also examined the device and are enthusiastic about its performance.

Company CEO Ami Rub said the device will be tested in the field by the end of this year. He said the company's own tests give the device a success rate of close to 100 percent in recognizing and detecting materials.

ITL specializes in products and devices for the security establishment and other military bodies. Among the items it produces are night vision equipment and optic sights. In 2001, the company invested $2.5 million in research, specifically to identify poison gases using remote sensing.

To that end, several top scientists were recruited. In a short time, the company realized it had developed a device that could recognize other types of dangerous substances as well.

The device is made up of three main components - a laser beam, a spectrometer and a computer. It fires a laser beam at the target.

"The molecules or crystals the laser hits react," said Dr. Mordechai Brestel, the head of the company's research team. "Any substance hit by the beam emits an invisible light with its own unique wavelength, like an individual fingerprint" and the spectrometer analyzes the result of the emission.

Brestel says the company has developed a unique capability to decipher the results and to transfer them to a computer with a database of the characteristics of various substances.

The computer then compares between its database and the results that the spectrometer produces, and gives the operator a real time warning if the subject of the test contains traces of dangerous or illegal substances. The device works up to a range of several dozen meters.

The company admits the device cannot examine objects inside a sealed container - a car trunk, for example - but Rub says substances still leave easily-detectable traces.

Ami Rodrich, ITL's business director, said the technology, for which U.S. and Israeli patents have been applied, has a wide variety of potential applications.

"At airports across the world, there is always a bottleneck where cargo and baggage have to be examined before being loaded onto the plane. Using our device, the check can be carried out in seconds."