The portable device known as Bulk Currency Detection System (BCDS) copies the way trained dogs sniff out and trace chemicals emitted from money.

The device works by extracting gas samples from a traveller, a bag or a vehicle and then analyses the sample for the signature chemicals that make up that money-smell.

"We are developing a device that mimics the function of trained dogs sniffing out concealed money without the drawbacks such as expensive training, sophisticated operators, down time and communication limitations," said Suiqiong Li from KWJ Engineering, California.

A security officer would simply wave the probe over clothing or inside a piece of luggage and if the chemicals were detected, an indicator light would come on, Discovery News reported.

The technique works effectively within the seconds or few minutes it takes for border inspections.

Researchers say that it could take two or three years to develop the device and get it ready for use at border crossing or at airports.

The study appeared in the journal American Chemical Society.

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