Airport scanners identify the basics — shirts, shoes, a clear travel-sized bottle of shampoo — but what about your molecules?

University of Pittsburgh physicists have invented the world’s smallest terahertz detector that could soon scan molecules in a fashion similar to airport screenings.

Using terahertz radiation — a level of light far below what the human eye can notice — the detector might have the ability to chemically identify single molecules.

Jeremy Levy, a professor at Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, compared his work to a child’s toy.