April 3, 2007 Dr. Timothy M. Swager has a nose for explosives. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Chemistry claims he can “almost always take a whiff of a chemical and make a pretty good guess as to what class a volatile compound might be in.” But Swager’s nose is nothing compared to the amplified chemical sensors he invented to detect vapors of common bomb-making chemicals, such as TNT. For his entire body of inventive work, the Lemelson-MIT Program named Swager the 2007 winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the most-prestigious cash prize for invention in the United States. This year, the prize criteria were modified to specify the winner be a mid-career inventor who is rising in his or her field.
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