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Cobalt Light Systems wins £50,000 MacRobert Award - David Wardell

Wow! This is a fantastic invention which could have a profound impact on all our lives. Oxfordshire based Cobalt Light Systems have developed a laser scanner that can detect the chemical composition of liquids in seconds. By using Raman spectroscopy and clever algorithms, the wavelength of molecules can be analysed and the contents be distinguished from the container.

Now in use at over 60 European airports, the Insight 100 machine is already screening passenger hand luggage.

This technology is really exciting because it can be used to identify liquids by their chemical composition behind any barrier - including skin. This means that there are all manner of potential applications - from food safety to non-invasive tests for breast cancer and osteoporosis.

The prestigious MacRobert Award by the Royal Academy of Engineering has a reputation for identifyling 'the next big thing' in engineering. Cobalt Light Systems beat off strong competition from two major players - Rolls-Royce and QinetiQ.

Chief executive, Paul Loeffen, says 'It is a generalised technology that has many applications' and added 'You can do these chemical analyses without a direct line of sight'. I look forward to reporting on future developments.

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