The trace-particle detector is based on the principals of ion mobility spectrometry. It detects traces of substances in the low nanogram (1 billionth of a gram) range.
The particles are collected by either vacuuming or wiping surfaces with a specially treated filter or cloth and inserting them into the detector for analysis. Analysis takes eight seconds and results are presented as a graph on a computer screen. This data can be stored for future reference.
Trace-particle detectors are in operation at airports, seaports, cargo and postal facilities throughout Australia.