Engineers at Princeton University, US, have developed a new laser-sensing technology that allows soldiers to detect hidden bombs from a distance.

Princeton mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Richard Miles said the new technique differs from previous remote laser-sensing methods.

“If there’s a bomb buried on the road ahead of you, you’d like to detect it by sampling the surrounding air, much like bomb-sniffing dogs can do, except from far away,” he added.

According to the latest technique, a new laser beam will be generated by oxygen atoms interacting with the molecules in the air before returning to identify any contaminants it encountered.

The researchers are trying to develop a smaller version of the device so that it can be mounted on a tank to scan a roadway for bombs.

They are also developing other approaches to remote detection involving a combination of lasers and radar.

The new technique will also allow the scientists to better measure airborne environmental pollutants and greenhouse gases.