News & Views

The detectives of the machine world

Geology graduate creates devices that can sniff out explosives

Tom Stone

Age: 26
Occupation: Product developer for Cobalt Light Systems (analytical equipment)  
Location: Oxford   

Understanding the structure of matter is a challenge that has occupied people for hundreds of years. Tom Stone works on some of the newest machines in this field as a product developer at Cobalt Light Systems, which makes high-tech detection systems. 

The equipment has many uses, from product testing in factories to scanning for explosives in aircraft baggage.

Tom came to the job after studying geology at university and working for a spell in an energy company. He says he likes the practical nature of what he does. 

“My job is developing procedures so that we can relate the readings taken by our machines [of how materials react to certain types of light] to the materials that they contain. I enjoy getting feedback from customers. 

“One of our machines was used by a fire crew in Australia to check on the materials in a dangerous spillage. It was good to learn from them what they thought about our products and how we could improve them.”