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Stage: Prototype

Although the threat of a liquid explosive attack on a passenger aircraft has been mitigated by limiting the size of carry-on bottles, highly potent chemicals (e.g., nerve agents) are a very serious threat. A single travel bottle full of such chemicals would cause great harm to many people and create a national security incident disrupting civilian air travel. Current screening methods to detect highly potent chemicals require opening a closed bottle. Experts at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed SEDONA, a low magnetic field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to detect chemical threats through unopened bottles. We have successfully demonstrated highly effective chemical detection using a magnet array that is amenable to field use. We are seeking partners to co-develop additional applications such as the detection of liquid explosives or opioids via a CRADA, and we are also seeking licensing partners to take the existing technology to market by creating a product suitable for

Nerve agents and related chemical threats have anomalously high signals which are easily distinguished from benign non-threat items. SEDONA is compact and portable, only requiring minimal power to operate, making it ideal for an airport setting. This technology is important to LANL and to national security because it is the first technology to address the threat of a nerve agent attack in the fast paced and vulnerable environment of commercial air travel. Recent advances in permanent magnet-based NMR at low magnetic fields have made it possible to create a deployable, low cost, magnetic resonance system suitable for high-throughput chemical threat screening. We have developed a technique based on multi-modal NMR signatures that identifies chemical threats quickly using a low-field, permanent magnet system; thus, the cost of the SEDONA system is low. SEDONA is able to detect low amounts of organophosphorous nerve agents, precursors, pesticides, and insecticides in small closed bottles very rapidly. It is a portable, light, and energy efficient system that can screen for these critical compounds accurately without opening the bottle. SEDONA could be modified to screen for liquid explosives and precursors with the addition of a modified detection probe. SEDONA represents a huge step forward in the safety and accuracy of liquid screening methods for security purposes.

Applications and Industries

SEDONA has been designed for use in commercial and government use with applications in airport, port, and border security, government buildings, and other venues. It is the first bottle scanner that does not rely on opening the bottle, which exposes the user to potential risk. SEDONA mitigates this risk by scanning small bottles quickly through the plastic.


SEDONA rapidly screens small closed bottles for nerve agents and their precursors. Having a small footprint, minimal power requirements, SEDONA is a portable, low cost nerve agent screener suitable for deployed use.

  • Screening time within tens of seconds
  • Detects organophosphorus nerve agents, precursors, pesticides, insecticides
  • Sensitive detection in small amounts of liquids
  • Small footprint, low cost, low power consumption, low weight and portable
  • Accurate without opening the bottle
  • Can screen for liquid explosives and precursors with addition of a modified detection probe