An ion scanner is also known as an ion mobility spectrometry device and is used for security reasons to scan for particulates and determine their substance of origin. It is used to detect illicit substances and is an effective tool in combating the drug trade and other threats.
Ion scanners require programming in order to detect certain chemical substances as well as regular maintenance to retain their accuracy. They are cheaper than alternatives that are meant to perform a similar function and are easier to use. Experts at the United States Department of Justice estimate that it only takes a few hours to train an employee to use an ion scanner.
Other dangerous substances such as explosives, hazardous chemicals or chemical weapons can also be detected by ion scanners, giving the device wide applications for military and research environments. The ionic mobility spectrometry device is useful in detecting and differentiating between different gaseous substances, giving it a place in analytical science. IMS devices are also used in medical settings as one of the tools for detecting lung problems in a patient, ranging from rejection after a transplant to sarcoidosis and even lung cancer. This method of detection is called breath gas analysis.