Improvements using rows of silver nanorods enhances the signal from a technique, called surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) so that individual viruses can be rapidly identified SERS works by measuring the change in frequency of a near-infrared laser as it scatters off viral DNA or RNA. This change in frequency, named the Raman shift for the scientist who discovered it in 1928, is as distinct as a fingerprint.
Previously the ability of superconductors to detect and differentiate the frequency of photons with 50-100 times greater precision was noted to be able to detect different radioactive isotopes.
Being able to precisely detect, locate and analyse pathogens, poisons and materials will transform public health and civil defence against disease and bioweapons. Remotely being able to detect nuclear weapons and nuclear materials can also shift the geopolitical landscape. Sufficiently advanced sensors could make it nearly impossible to hide chemical, biological and nuclear WMDs.