A man helps evacuate his children injured in a landmine on the Golan Heights, Feb. 6, 2010. (Hamad Almakt/Flash90) (Hamad Almakt/Flash90)
Land mine victims

Israeli researchers have devised a way to detect buried landmines using a system of glowing bacteria and lasers.

Landmines, which kill or injured an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people each year worldwide, emit small quantities of explosive vapors. Researchers from Hebrew University, headed by Prof. Shimshon Belkin of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, discovered that certain bacteria release a fluorescent signal when they come into contact with these vapors, the Times of Israel reported Wednesday.

The researchers tested their observations by planting the bacteria in specially designed beads amidst a field of buried land mines. The field was then scanned remotely by lasers which were able to detect the mines by the bacteria’s glow.

The researchers believe that this is the first time landmines have been detected remotely.

More Work Needed to Perfect the System

“Our field data show that engineered biosensors may be useful in a landmine detection system,” Belkin said in a statement. However, Belkin cautioned that more work needed to be done to perfect the system, including improving the sensitivity and stability of the bacteria, increasing the speed of the scan to cover larger areas, and making the scanning apparatus smaller so that it can be fit onto unmanned vehicles or drones.

Israel has numerous areas that have been populated with landmines, including the Arava Valley, areas along the Jordan Valley, and the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War. While these zones have been marked off with warnings, land mine accidents still occur there every few years.

By: The Tower